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Navigating the landscape for utility-scale energy storage

A conversation with Rob Moore, Chief Business Development Officer at Connected Energy.

27/02/2024

As the energy landscape continues to evolve, Connected Energy is poised to develop utility-scale battery energy storage sites.

We talk to Rob Moore, Chief Business Development Officer, about the significance of utility-scale storage and its myriad of applications in the evolving energy landscape…

Understanding utility-scale battery energy storage

Picture an expansive site equipped with multiple containers of batteries capable of storing anything from a few MWhs to several hundreds of MWhs. The sites could be sat alongside energy generators, such as solar farms or wind turbines, or stand independently, ready to meet the dynamic demands of the grid.

There are many applications for utility-scale sites but the primary application is energy trading. As we transition to a world powered by more sustainable forms of energy, the intermittent nature of renewable sources brings inevitable instability. Utility-scale storage becomes the linchpin, storing excess energy during peak generation and allowing the grid to tap into those reserves when generation drops. This support not only aids the transition to renewable generation but also becomes a revenue generator for the site owner.

Revenue generation through energy trading

Owners of battery energy storage are entering an era of diversified revenue streams. Whether managing a small commercial system or a large utility-scale site, systems can bring real financial gains.

We’re basically – slowly – getting better at paying batteries to be in the right place at the right time, rather than just being connected to a local network.

Balancing mechanisms, private power purchase agreements, capacity services, and ancillary services – these avenues offer exciting opportunities. Emerging opportunities like local constraints management, and demand-side response/the Demand Flexibility Service add layers to revenue potential.

And the best thing about this is that the systems can still do all the things that currently deployed systems do. Such as on-site load management, turning a 100kW connection into 300kW of EV charging and generally providing a bit of resilience to a site.

Utility-scale systems: the future landscape

The trend of solar sites retrofitting battery energy storage is gaining momentum, primarily due to the substantial reduction in capital expenditure facilitated by plugging into existing grid connections. As the landscape evolves with the advent of demand-side response revenues, we hope to see a surge in these types of projects.

In the UK, recent announcements regarding gigawatt-level projects are also capturing attention. However, there are challenges in obtaining consent and confirming commercial viability. Deployment is also exacerbated by the pressing issue of limited grid capacity in the country.

Across the channel, the European market emerges as a fertile ground for these projects. A palpable political will in specific European regions aims to diminish reliance on gas power, resulting in the phasing out of coal and gas and the integration of non-dispatchables. Ambitious pledges and numerical targets underscore this transition, emphasizing the pivotal role of storage flexibility in achieving these goals.

Connected Energy’s vision for second life utility scale sites

While utility-scale energy storage is not a novel concept, Connected Energy’s approach is unique. By using only batteries which have had a previous life in an electric vehicle and granting them a second life, we’re addressing environmental concerns, reducing the need for critical material mining, and maximising the value of each battery.

Our commercial E-STOR system has proven that second life batteries are well placed for these applications, and our utility scale sites will be developed in line with the increasing availability of second life batteries.

By developing these sites now, we’re ready for that ramp-up in volume. Not only creating sites which can support the stability of renewable energy but also enabling battery manufacturers and OEMs to get the maximum financial value out of their batteries.

As our inaugural large-scale site takes shape in the UK, the horizon is bright with opportunities for scale-up in Europe. The journey towards a sustainable and resilient energy future is underway, and it can be powered by the electric car battery of yesterday.

About Rob

Rob leads the development of our utility-scale, 50MW+ product. He is overseeing the establishment of our demonstrator site and all revenue and commercial aspects of the product.

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