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Smarter Network Storage (SNS)

The Smarter Network Storage (SNS) project features a 6MW/10MWh storage solution comprising approximately 50,000 lithium-ion batteries. This technology has enabled UK Power Networks to manage electricity demand at peak times without building excess capacity. By charging during the day, the Big Battery stores electricity that can then be dispatched in the evening when residential customers in the town of
Leighton Buzzard need it.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 31/01/2013
End date: 30/12/2016
Budget: £18.7m

Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have the extraordinary challenge of maintaining security of supply at affordable prices, whilst helping the UK deliver its carbon emission reduction targets. As electricity demand increases and more renewable energy sources are connected to the distribution networks, DNOs must cope with the mismatch between the time at which electricity is generated and the moment at which consumers need it. UK Power Networks is exploring the use of electricity storage as a key source of flexibility to address some of the technical challenges associated with the transition to a low-carbon network. This new technology provides an alternative to expensive network reinforcement, thus allowing DNOs to keep costs down. The Smarter Network Storage (SNS) is exploring ways to maximise the value from storage by offering multiple benefits to both network operators and the wider UK electricity system.

The Smarter Network Storage (SNS) project features a 6MW/10MWh storage solution comprising approximately 50,000 lithium-ion batteries. This technology has enabled UK Power Networks to manage electricity demand at peak times without building excess capacity. By charging during the day, the Big Battery stores electricity that can then be dispatched in the evening when residential customers in the town of Leighton Buzzard need it.

During low or average electricity demand times, the storage capacity of the Big Battery is enough to power about 1,100 UK homes for a whole day or over 27,000 homes for one hour.

The Smarter Network Storage (SNS) is exploring ways to maximise the value from storage by offering multiple benefits to both network operators and the wider UK electricity system. It is the first storage solution of its kind to be commissioned in the UK and the first large-scale battery to support National Grid. Subject to the same technical requirements as electricity generators, SNS has offered over 6,500 hours of transmission network services. In addition, it has also exported electricity to the distribution network when demand has been high on more than 150 occasions.

Storage is the only technology that can provide multiple services to the distribution and transmission electricity networks. These services enable three types of benefits:

  1. Network reinforcement alternatives. By using electricity storage, DNOs defer reinforcement investments, leading to substantial consumer savings.
  2. System stability. Storage provides key flexibility services including:
    • Peak shaving: allows DNOs to reduce peak times of electricity consumption
    • Reactive power support: helps reduce electricity losses in the network
    • Frequency response: enables National Grid to stabilise the frequency of the system
    • Electricity reserve: helps overcome the intermittency of renewable generation
  3. Wider market benefits. Storage can offer wholesale market trading opportunities for other market participants.

The SNS project has delivered many benefits ranging from peak demand reduction on the site, balancing support, carbon dioxide emissions being displaced by peak generation. Additionally the project has shed light on the regulatory framework challenges brought by an asset that is not classified as such.

Finally, the SNS project has provided evidence on the potential of grid scale storage and the revenues associated with it. These results will be critical for the industry as the uptake of storage increases and policy makers.


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