Grid storage and EV charging specialists Zenobē say they’ve fully funded the first stage of a giant grid-scale battery, under construction now in the Highlands.
Ground is being broken at Blackhillock, between Aberdeen & Inverness, to deliver the first 200MW of a planned 300MW storage project. Zenobē say it’s the world’s first battery designed to deliver stability services using a direct connection into a transmission network.
The project’s tech, from a consortium including Wärtsilä, H&MV, inverter makers SMA Solar Technology and GE Grid Solutions, stands to boost Britain’s uptake of renewables.
Wind-generated electricity from onshore turbines and the offshore Viking and Beatrice farms will flow through the device, ready for despatch when most needed.
Funding comes in the form of £235 million of long-term debt customised by five banks, led by NatWest.
Believed to be Europe’s biggest ever project financing for battery storage, the sum is part of Zenobē’s recently announced £ 750 million investment plan for Scotland, set to take the company’s assets north of the border to over 1GW.
Today’s initial 200MW/400MWh capacity is scheduled to go live as early as summer 2024. The full 300MW/600MWh should be available in the second half of 2026.
When commissioned, Blackhillock will be the world’s first grid-scale device to provide a full suite of active and reactive power services. It will also be the largest transmission connected battery in Europe.
Only four days ago, Zenobē announced a 100 MW storage device going live at Capenhurst, Cheshire, pictured, designed to provide grid stability and more renewables to Merseyside.
The Scottish project is calculated to save consumers up to £170 million from their bills over the 15 years of Zenobē’s contract with National Grid ESO. Stability services specified in the deal include short-circuit level and inertia balancing.
Wärtsilä is appointed as Blackhillock’s supplier of battery energy storage systems, or BESS. GE Grid Solutions will deliver two 180 MVA transformers, with H&MV providing balance of plant works. Glasgow-based civil engineers RJ McLeod have been brought in for site works.
Zenobē co-founder James Basden said: “Blackhillock will use cutting edge technology to provide essential services needed to lower consumer bills and bring more renewable energy onto the grid.
“This is one of several major battery flexibility projects we’re working on in Scotland at the moment, shaping the future for how grid scale battery projects will work on grids across the globe.”
In the view of Jason Devonshire-Mander of SMA Solar UK, “These kinds of stability plants are the missing link to 100% renewables. Value stacking reveals this as a cost effective solution compared to traditional technologies“,
“Our grid forming solution stabilizes frequency and voltage instantly and inherently”.