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Suffolk County Council launches electric BESS


The innovative system is made from used Renault Kangoo electric vehicle batteries. It has been manufactured and installed to provide opportunities to research how electricity can be stored ready for use when it is needed. The BESS has now started gathering data and demonstrating the potential to reduce carbon emissions, as well as cash savings by lowering building running costs.

The Hold first opened to the public in September 2020 and was officially opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester in September 2021. The £20million building is a partnership between Suffolk County Council and the University of Suffolk and is home to more than 900 years of history safely preserved by Suffolk Archives.

Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Heritage at Suffolk County Council, said: “The Hold is home to some nine centuries of historical archives, as well as being a visitor centre, exhibition space and an important venue for local communities.

“It keeps precious material from the past safely stored, while being supplied with energy which comes from a modern technology. The information gained from operating the BESS will be used to inform prospective energy installations and help us achieve net zero emissions for future generations.”

The project involving the use of a battery energy storage system was implemented by Suffolk County Council as part of its ambition to be Net Zero by 2030.

The Council commissioned Connected Energy, a company based in Newcastle upon Tyne, because the BESS it installs are specially made from second life vehicles batteries. This means the system also demonstrates how the circular economy can work in respect of electric vehicle batteries.

“If COP 26 has taught us anything it’s that we all need to work together to bring about change, and Suffolk County Council is certainly doing that here. This is the start of a three-year partnership between Connected Energy and the University of Suffolk, to share knowledge and learning for the good of all” said Matthew Lumsden, CEO of Connected Energy.

The Hold is part of an electricity network which includes photo voltaic panels (PV), EV chargers and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Working in conjunction with the University of Suffolk’s Sustainability Institute, and other local authorities through the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership, Suffolk County Council is generating evidence-based learning on ‘what works’ across this network, including the creation and storage of its own clean energy.

This will inform future energy planning across the council and support university research and training in clean tech solutions, while helping to raise the profile of the region as a centre of excellence in sustainable energy operations. The council will generate cash savings and revenue opportunities through the BESS operation, something many other organisations will certainly want to learn from.

Cllr Andrew Reid added: “This BESS and the partnership behind it supports the Council’s climate commitment by providing sustainable and cost-effective energy, which can also be shared by our visitors to The Hold.”

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