The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has given the green light to the UK’s largest-ever battery storage project, to be developed by InterGen in Essex.
The 320MW / 640MWh lithium-ion battery site will be built at DP World London Gateway, a new port and logistics centre on the Thames Estuary. There it will store surplus zero-carbon power from renewable resources, including offshore wind, and release it during times of peak demand.
Battery storage will be essential in the UK’s decarbonised energy system, maximising the usability of intermittent renewable resources. Consultancy Atkins has estimated that the country must deploy between 15 and 30GW of battery storage for the grid by 2050 to reach net zero.
Construction of the £200 million project is expected to begin in 2022 and the battery will be operational by 2024.
At launch, the Gateway battery site will be significantly larger than the biggest battery storage project currently active in the UK, the 50 MW / 75 MWh Thurcroft battery storage site in South Yorkshire. It could expand further, to achieve a capacity of 1.3GWh.
InterGen CEO Jim Lightfoot said: “We are delighted to have been granted consent by BEIS for the Gateway project. Our mission is to deliver the flexible electricity solutions that everyone relies on in a low-carbon world, and this project is a major statement of intent.”
The company “will continue to explore opportunities to develop projects which can support the energy transition,” he said.
InterGen already won planning permission for another large-scale battery site, in Spalding, Lincolnshire. That battery will have a capacity of 175MW / 350MWh.
The InterGen projects benefit from a shakeup in planning rules in July that now permits larger battery developments. Until this year, planning legislation capped storage projects to 50MW in England and 350MW in Wales.
The new batteries won’t just be the UK’s largest—they’ll also vie for the title of the world’s largest battery. That distinction is currently held by LS Power’s 250MW Gateway project in San Diego County, California. However, that will soon be superseded by a 316MW project adjacent to a gas plant in Queens, New York City.
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