Energy lifeline as Tesla tech battery storage site comes on four months early

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A battery storage site set to use Elon Musk’s Tesla technology has come online near Hull and can store enough electricity to power 300,000 homes for two hours. The site at Pillswood, Cottingham, went online on Monday four months ahead of schedule. It’s a boost at a time when there are fears that Britain may not be able to shore up enough energy to keep the lights on this winter. Under an “unlikely worst-case scenario”, National Grid has drafted an emergency plan in the event that the UK cannot import enough energy from Europe.

The energy usually gets sent to Britain via interconnections, and the UK also returns the favour when the mainland needs supplies. But amid an energy crisis that has seen prices soar and supplies run scarce, there are concerns that European nations may need to keep supplies for themselves.

This Yorkshire facility developed by renewable ower firm Harmony Energy, which is using technology made by Elon Musk’s Tesla, has begun operations in a positive step forward.

Battery storage systems can be used to store excess electricity produced when weather conditions benefit renewable power sources the most, which can later be sent to customers at times when demand is high.

Tesla’s AI software will be used by the system to match energy supply to demand. This had been due to be switched on in two stages in December 2022 and March 2023.

The Pillswood site can store up to 196 MWh energy in a single cycle and is built next to the National Grid’s Creyke Beck substation, which will be connected to Dogger Bank. This will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm, which is set to launch in the North Sea later this decade.

Peter Kavanagh, director of Harmony Energy, said: “Battery energy storage systems are essential to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy in the UK and we hope this particular one highlights Yorkshire as a leader in green energy solutions.

“These projects are not supported by taxpayer subsidy and will play a major role in contributing to the Net Zero transition, as well as ensuring the future security of the UK’s energy supply and reduced reliance on foreign gas imports.”

This comes after a leading energy company warned that the UK is squandering the chance to let millions of households access cheap, clean power due to a lack of energy storage capacity in Britain.

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Windfarms can sometimes produce excess energy when the wind is blowing strong and there is already a healthy electricity supply, meaning that the energy produced is not needed but has nowhere to go. As well as this, the most powerful wind farms in the country tend to be far away from busy centres like London or Manchester, meaning the UK is forced to turn them off during times of high supply to prevent an overload of the National Grid.

Andy Willis, the CEO of Kona Energy, previously told Express.co.uk that the UK is throwing away up to £1billion a year because of this, and it comes at a time that energy bills have surged to record highs. 

He said: “Roughly one billion pounds was spent in the last year curtailing energy from wind farms and other generators, replacing that need elsewhere – usually from fossil-fuelled stations. Tackling this enormous waste of both money and energy is crucial.

“Further battery storage facilities will significantly reduce this burden and we are proud to be leading the way with the approval of such a critical project. As these constraint costs rise, projects like this are essential to relieving network congestion and reducing unnecessary waste.”

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And the Yorkshire site is not the only storage facility that will help boost the UK’s energy security in the years ahead, with a number of sites planned in locations across Britain. 

For instance, Kona Energy’s deal with Gore Street Energy Storage Fund (GSF) will see a 200MW project in North West England that could power up to 200,000 homes for 2 hours once built. 

 Centrica Business Solutions is also working on turning an old gas station into a new 50 megawatt facility in Lincolnshire into a  50MW facility which is set to provide energy storage for 43 onshore wind farms across the county and send energy to tens of thousands of homes when they need it. 

Greg McKenna, Managing Director of Centrica Business Solutions, said: “Investing in low carbon energy assets that boost the UK’s ability to store more renewable energy is key to getting to net zero. Lincolnshire has 242MW of onshore wind power capacity but when supply outstrips demand some of those green electrons will go to waste if not stored.”



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