Charging ahead: Welsh battery scheme may aid growth of green energy

One of the UK’s largest battery storage schemes, built next to a windfarm, will offer vital services to the National Grid.

Nestling alongside rows of conifers and wind turbines in a Welsh valley, a pioneering project will materialise this summer that could prove a blueprint for unlocking Britain’s renewable energy potential.

The Upper Afan Valley near Swansea is already home to the biggest windfarm in England and Wales, but in July work will begin there on one of the UK’s largest battery storage schemes.

The Pen y Cymoedd wind energy project near Swansea. Photograph: Vattenfall

Built by Swedish energy company Vattenfall, the facility will involve six shipping containers stuffed with lithium-ion batteries made by BMW’s electric car division.

The project is seen as a crucial part of the jigsaw for helping wind, solar and other renewable sources go from the 25% of UK power they provide today, to the much greater share the government needs to hit its climate change targets.

The batteries will not store the electricity generated by the Pen y Cymoedd windfarm with which they share a site, but will offer vital services to the National Grid to cope with the fluctuations that come from renewable power.

Colocating the plant with the windfarm was key to making the economics of the scheme work. Vattenfall said that the site’s existing infrastructure, such as connections to the grid’s transmission network to take power around the UK, meant it was about £5m cheaper than building it on a standalone site.

“To connect a battery project to the transmission network would be prohibitively expensive, but because we have the windfarm already in place, we can share the assets. It’s a huge cost-saving,”

said Frank Elsworth, who is managing construction of the 22MW plant, the battery equivalent of 450 BMW i3 electric cars.

Read more: The Guardian

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