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Biggest battery in Europe

Posted on 12 March 2015 10:55 AM by lang01j

I was lucky enough to attend the launch of one of our most exciting projects-the ‘Big Battery’. Smarter Network Storage, to give it its proper name. The project is at the beginning of a two year trial to see how technology can help us store electricity and have the ability to use it when we need it most. It is also the biggest of its type in Europe and has sparked a lot of interest in the media. Watch us on BBC Look East.

Use of electricity is changing
We all know that people’s use of electricity is changing, we see it every day in the different electronic devices we use, and in how our towns and cities are growing-especially in the South East where we operate. Not only that, but how we generate electricity is also changing with our increasing reliance on renewable and other low carbon forms of generation.

So if the use and generation of electricity is changing, it is inevitable that how we actually get power to people’s houses will also have to change and adapt too. And that is primarily what this trial is about.
If the trial proves successful, the knock-on effects could be extremely far reaching in terms of how we work. At the moment if the demand for electricity goes up significantly in an area, through new homes and developments, we would probably have to install new cabling in to that area, and maybe even a new substation to make sure we have enough power. Also a substation, like the one at Leighton Buzzard connected to the battery, can only ever have a certain amount of electricity it can pump out. If the demand for power goes over this-such as at peak times at breakfast and in the evening-then power needs to be brought from outside, which leads to something of a balancing act in terms what power sources get switched on and where the power has to go.

Kicking in to action
The idea behind this is that the battery can be charging through the day and night when the demand is low and then kick in to action when it is most needed-meaning we don’t have to put as much new kit in the ground to get the power to where we need it, and the country’s electricity grid won’t have to make as many choices about what sources to switch on and off.
So an interesting time ahead in this trial, if we get the results we are hoping for it could lead to a lot more of these batteries being built around the country- potentially knocking about £600 million of consumers bills in the process- I don’t know too many people who would have a problem with that! 

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