Open Energi and Camborne Energy Storage take Tesla battery into frequency response market

Batteries and solar combine to solve intermittency and earn higher revenues
Batteries and solar combine to solve intermittency and earn higher revenues

Open Energi and Camborne Energy Storage (CES) will take a half megawatt Tesla battery into National Grid’s Firm Frequency Response (FFR) market in the next few weeks.

The battery is colocated with a solar PV plant in Somerset and is also earning revenues from arbitrage, that is, charging for free via the solar panels, or from the grid when prices are low, and selling back to the market when prices peak.

Open Energi, which provides the demand response software via its Dynamic Demand platform, said the battery should be involved in the FFR market by the end of March.

While battery costs remain high, and there are challenges around connections to the grid, the technology is believed by many to be on the cusp of a boom akin to that experienced by solar PV five years ago.

Centrica believes that surge could begin as early as this summer. Meanwhile, UK Power Networks said in January that it received more than 12 gigawatts of connections applications from battery developers in little over a year (although it pointed out that some were “highly speculative”).

Camborne said it has consent in place for 50MW of battery storage, much of which will be colocated with solar PV.

Using batteries to manage intermittency of renewable generation is seen as a key element of decarbonising the UK power system. National Grid, for example, sees potential for up to 18GW of electricity storage by 2040.

Batteries also allow owner-operators to make more money from their generation because they are dispatchable, that is, provide power when required, and respond more quickly than many forms of generation.

Because revenues from fast response services are high, many investors are looking at setting up battery farms, i.e. approaching land owners with grid access to build battery sheds. But Open Energi said that is not necessarily the optimal outcome for bill payers.

“Energy storage is helping the UK transition to a smarter, cleaner energy system, but there’s more to unlocking value from it than putting a battery in a field,” said David Hill, the firm’s strategy director. “We’re using the latest machine learning techniques to manage battery performance in real-time. By understanding and managing state of charge in relation to fluctuations in solar PV generation and changes in electricity supply and demand we can maximise revenues and minimise wear and tear.”

Dan Taylor, MD at CES commented: “We have ambitious deployment targets for energy storage in the UK and this successful project is an exciting step forward for us and the industry. It demonstrates the vital role of energy storage in delivering secure, low carbon power to the UK. We are aiming to co-locate further energy storage with renewable generation throughout the UK and help make our electricity system fit for the future.”

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