First Tesla Megapack big battery system switched on in UK

Six Tesla Megapacks with a combined capacity of 15MWh have been installed on the grid in Dorset, in the UK, marking the first of many big batteries to be rolled out through a partnership between global outfit Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and British renewables developer Harmony Energy.

FRV, now owned by Saudi-based Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, said this week that the utility-scale energy storage project at Holes Bay, Poole, has been successfully commissioned on the Southern Electric Power distribution network.

The energy storage system – one of the largest in the south of the UK – looks to be the first in the UK to use Telsa’s Megapack technology; the 1.5MW/3MWh units unveiled in July of 2019[1] to target the booming utility-scale energy storage market and, in particular, offer a sustainable alternative to gas “peaking” power plants.

The more energy-dense units also promise to make the installation of gigawatt-scale “power plants” four times faster than a fossil fuel plant, building on the company’s already impressive reputation for building the 100MW/129MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia In just 100 days.

A 100MW/400MWh big battery designed to replace a natural gas peaker plant in southern California was slated to claim the world’s first grid-scale deployment of the technology[2] after Tesla won the EPC contract for that project in May.

But it looks like this much smaller system – along with the “Windcharger project” in Canada[3] – has beaten the US to the punch. FRV said the Megapack-based system would also use Tesla’s “cutting-edge” Autobidder software to help deliver peak-time flexibility to the UK National Grid.

“Utility-scale battery energy storage is critical to the future of the UK’s energy supply, often seen as the missing link in the UK’s renewable energy strategy, both in terms of controlling grid frequency and providing backup during periods of peak demand and supply,” Harmony Energy CEO Peter Kavanagh said on Monday.

“We’re delighted to have worked closely with FRV and Tesla to complete this project, which is the first in our pipeline of battery energy storage plant to be built in the UK.”

Felipe Hernández, managing director of engineering and asset management at FRV said Holes Bay would be the first project in a strategic energy storage pipeline the massive company planned to launch globally.

This includes Australia, where FRV announced plans in December[4] of 2019 to build a 100MW solar farm with a 50MW/100MWh big battery in South Australia’s Clare Valley.

“We are pleased to join together with Harmony Energy in this project that demonstrates the economic and technical feasibility of the battery energy storage system while supporting the development of UK’s strategic sustainable energy program,” he said.

“We are already collaborating with governments, regulators, and partners around the world to lay the foundations for a new energy model.

“Energy storage plays a central and critical role to fully realize the power of renewable energy, and FRV acknowledges the value of this technology as a key element to achieving a decarbonised society.”

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