GE to work on converting old, gas-fired power station in Britain into a battery storage facility

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Pylons photographed in the U.K. The project involving Centrica and GE will store energy from onshore wind farms in Lincolnshire.
Gareth Fuller | PA Images | Getty Images

A decommissioned gas-fired power station in Britain is set to be repurposed and converted into a battery storage facility, with those involved in the project saying it will be able to provide “the equivalent of a full day’s energy consumption for 11,000 households.”

In a statement Monday, London-listed Centrica said construction of the facility in Lincolnshire, a county in the East Midlands of England, had started.

U.S. firm GE will supply the 50 megawatt project’s battery storage system. When up and running, the facility will store energy from 43 onshore wind farms in Lincolnshire.

Centrica said the system would be able to store 100 megawatt hours of electric energy. The facility is set to begin full operations in 2023 and is expected to be run for a 25-year period.

“Storing renewable energy in this way makes it possible to better control the peaks and troughs associated with renewable energy generation — charging the batteries when electricity demand is low and discharging when demand peaks,” Centrica said.

Effective, large-scale storage systems are set to become increasingly important as renewable energy capacity expands. This is because while sources of energy such as the sun and wind are renewable, they are not constant.

The International Energy Agency says that the “rapid scaling up of energy storage systems will be critical” when it comes to addressing what it calls the “hour-to-hour variability” of solar photovoltaic and wind electricity generation on the grid.

According to the IEA, investment in battery storage hit close to $10 billion globally in 2021 and is expected to near $20 billion in 2022.

In recent months, a number of big companies have made plays in the energy storage sector.

Back in July, it was announced that Norway’s Equinor would acquire U.S.-based battery storage developer East Point Energy after signing an agreement to take a 100% stake in the company.

In August, BlackRock said that a fund under the management of BlackRock Real Assets had reached an agreement to acquire Akaysha Energy, an Australian firm that develops battery storage and renewable energy projects.

The intermittency of renewables was highlighted on Tuesday, when energy firm SSE updated the market on both its outlook and recent performance.

Among other things, the business noted that “lower-than-expected output, mainly due to weather” meant “total renewable output for the year to 22 September was around 13% below plan.”

Scotland-headquartered SSE said its “original full-year guidance of adjusted earnings per share of at least 120 pence” was unchanged.

“Our balanced business mix has ensured a strong performance to date, however in such highly volatile market conditions, financial performance for the full year will be significantly influenced by plant availability, weather and commodity price movements,” the company’s finance director, Gregor Alexander, said.

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