UK Electricity Supply Commences Transformation through Multi-Million Dollar Investment in Batteries from VLC Energy
VLC Energy recently announced the development of two of the UK’s largest energy storage plants, to be connected to the electricity network by year end. The newly created company is a joint venture between Low Carbon, a renewable energy investment company, and VPI Immingham, owner of one of the largest combined heat and power plants in Europe and part of the Vitol Group. VLC Energy was established to fund early stage energy storage and renewable energy projects in the UK, with the intention of accelerating the development of the UK’s renewable energy market and complementing VPI Immingham’s existing combined heat and power (CHP) generation capabilities.The use of batteries will enhance National Grid’s ability to manage surges in supply from renewable energy sources, as well as surges in demand, and ultimately increase the Grid’s capacity to accommodate energy generated from renewables. They will also be an integral part of building a smarter, cleaner and more flexible energy system for the UK.
The first multi-million dollar projects to be developed by VLC Energy include two of the UK’s largest energy storage plants in Cleator in Cumbria and Glassenbury in Kent. The energy storage plants were awarded contracts in the National Grid’s Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender process, as well as the Capacity Market Auction for delivery in 2020. The Cleator and Glassenbury sites will have a combined capacity of 50MW (35MWh) accounting for 25% of the total EFR contract capacity awarded by National Grid.
The battery projects will harness the latest Lithium-ion battery technology from LG Chem and sophisticated energy management systems from NEC Energy Solutions, Inc. to provide a vital balancing service to National Grid, with almost instantaneous responses of less than one second to surges in energy supply and demand. This rapid response service will provide significant cost savings to National Grid, with some estimates suggesting as much as $250 million (£200 million) in savings across all EFR contracts, by reducing wasted energy. Justin Thesiger, Operations Director at Low Carbon, commenting on the selection of NEC Energy Solutions and LG Chem stated: “NEC Energy Solutions, in association with LG Chem, offered a comprehensive solution that matched our requirements for the delivery of our first two utility scale storage sites.”
Low Carbon has a proven track record in the development, construction, financing and management of renewable energy assets, and was the only organization to be awarded two contracts in the National Grid EFR tender process. To date, the UK-based renewable energy investment company has enabled the deployment of more than $500 million (£400 million) into renewable energy projects and has experience with solar photovoltaic, battery storage, wind, combined heat and power, concentrated solar power and anaerobic digestion. The investor has developed enough renewable energy to power more than 100,000 homes and save more than 143,600 tons of CO2 annually.
Russell Hardy, Chairman, VPI Immingham and member of Vitol’s executive committee, added, “We’re pleased to be entering into an exclusive, strategic partnership with Low Carbon that will enable us to grow our investments in alternative energy in the UK. Batteries perfectly complement renewables and gas and together offer a cleaner, more efficient energy future for the UK.” Roy Bedlow, Chief Executive, Low Carbon, said, “Renewable energy is playing an increasingly important role in the UK’s energy mix and as this role expands, the development of energy storage plants will be central to the future success of the UK’s energy network. As a leading player in the renewable energy market, we’re delighted to be partnering with Vitol to accelerate the development of new energy storage and renewable energy projects. Furthermore, by actively building a robust portfolio of renewable energy projects at scale, we are substantively challenging the causes of climate change, while helping to meet the growing demand for renewable energy in the UK.”