The two sites in Cambridgeshire and South Yorkshire will help build grid resilience and flexibility as we transition to a low-carbon energy system powered by renewables
Smart energy infrastructure company, SMS plc, has today started construction of a 50MW battery storage development in Burwell, Cambridgeshire, marking its entry into the grid-scale energy storage market. Work on a second site in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, will get underway later this month to establish an additional 40MW of capacity. The two projects are the first in an initial 270MW pipeline that SMS seeks to build over the next two years.
SMS – which finances, installs, and manages low-carbon energy assets across the grid – will deliver the projects in their entirety, from initial construction through to ongoing operation, trading, maintenance, and asset management for the 40-year lifespan of the batteries. Construction of the Burwell battery development is slated for completion in the final quarter of 2021, whilst build of the Barnsley site is expected to finish soon after.
In addition to facilitating greater penetration of intermittent renewable energy, the combined 90MW of capacity will deliver a range of balancing and ancillary services essential for building responsiveness, flexibility, and resilience of the grid. The capability of battery storage to support the grid in this way means that increased deployment of the technology is critical in the transition to a low-carbon energy system, and in meeting the UK Government’s net-zero 2050 goal.
The utility-scale storage market received a boost in 2020 after changes to planning legislation meant that storage developments in England would no longer be limited to under 50MW. This opened the market for more sizeable projects of 50MW and above to help tackle increased grid volatility as well as overall decarbonisation efforts. The UK currently has over 1GW of storage in operation and an ever-growing pipeline of projects across the country.
Commenting on the launch of the new projects, Tim Mortlock, chief operating officer at SMS, said, “With construction underway to establish 90MW of battery storage in Burwell and Barnsley, today signifies SMS’s arrival in the utility-scale storage market. Over time, we are aiming to establish a strong pipeline in this space, building on decades of dedication and expertise in developing Britain’s low-carbon energy infrastructure. This includes our continued national rollout of smart meters and several ongoing projects to develop smart energy systems across a range of distributed generation, storage, heat and electric vehicle charging solutions.”
Mortlock added, “The case for battery storage and the wider benefits they deliver to the grid is undoubted. When operational, our batteries will play an important role in improving the adoption of cleaner, lower-cost renewables and help bolster system resilience as we come to rely on more intermittent forms of generation. An increased capacity of batteries on the grid will, in many ways, also contribute to a more affordable energy system for consumers. These benefits are central pillars of the Government’s net-zero 2050 target, and our business strategy is to deliver the network of low-carbon assets needed to reach that goal as soon as possible.”