Battery Energy Storage Systems In The UK: An Overview

Battery energy storage systems (BESS) are gaining popularity in the United Kingdom as a means of storing excess energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar for later use. Additionally, BESS can help to stabilise the grid and increase the dependability of the power supply.

A battery energy storage system (BESS) site

BESS has piqued investors’ interest as a means of generating revenue through a variety of mechanisms, such as providing grid services, selling excess energy, and participating in demand response programmes. Numerous governments, including the United Kingdom, provide incentives for the advancement of BESS.

Growth of the Battery Energy Storage Industry

The number of BESS installations in the United Kingdom has increased significantly.  In July 2020, the UK government relaxed planning regulations relating to battery storage systems. This move was aimed at enabling the UK to reach its goal of 40 GW of installed battery storage capacity by 2030.  

In 2022, the United Kingdom added a record 800MWh of new utility energy storage capacity, representing the highest annual deployment rate to date.  In fact, the UK’s energy storage pipeline increased by 34.5GW in 2022. 

In 2017, there was only one 50MW project in the UK, whereas in 2021 and 2022, each year saw the installation of nine 50MW projects. The average project size in 2017 was 4.4MWh, whereas the average project size in 2022 was 36MWh, due in part to the duration of batteries increasing.

Future of BESS in the UK

In Summary:

  1. There are currently 2.4GW/2.6GWh of operational energy storage across 161 sites in the United Kingdom.
  2. Over 2.6GW/4.3GWh of energy storage projects are currently under construction and will be completed within the next 18 months.
  3. The annual planned capacity for 2022 is a record-breaking 20.7GW across 295 sites, including some 500MW and 1GW projects. The majority of these projects are anticipated to utilise batteries with a minimum duration of two hours (compared to 2017 where projects had a duration of 0.5 or 1 hour).
  4. In addition to having a grid connection, 4.9GW of the approved projects are either in the construction phase or nearing construction.
  5. More than half of the capacity submitted during the third quarter of 2022 (4.4GW out of 7GW) is from sites larger than 100MW, and nearly all of the capacity submitted during this period (6.5GW out of 7GW) is from sites larger than 50MW.

The majority of projects brought online in 2022 were submitted for planning between 2017 and 2019.  There is still a substantial amount of pipeline submitted during this time period that is awaiting construction, which indicates that installed energy storage capacity will continue to increase in the near future.

It is fair to say that the significant growth during 2022 indicates a bright future for the UK energy storage market, and large amounts of energy storage capacity are likely to be connected in the coming years.

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