How Battery Energy Storage Systems Saved the UK
18 February 2020
In August of last year, the lights went out in the UK...everywhere. Or at least, almost everywhere. The area experienced its first wide-scale power outage in more than a decade. On a Friday afternoon, more than 1 million customers were left without power due to a single lightning strike. Trains were stopped, traffic and street lights went down and even airports experienced issues.
Many speculated about the cause of the issue for days afterward, only to later learn that it was a simple lightning strike that caused a snowball of events throughout the power grid in the UK.
Battery Energy Storage Comes to the Rescue
Minutes after the event that caused major power outages throughout the UK power grid, battery energy storage systems kicked into gear. For example, National Grid and other providers used their battery energy storage systems and generators to make up for shortfalls and after only two minutes and 22 seconds (which can seem like a lifetime in such a situation), the power supply was brought back up to safe levels throughout the area.
Compared to an incident in 2008, this recent restoration to bring the power grid back up standard operating limits was four times faster; back then, it was restored in around four minutes. Around 10 years ago during another blackout event, it took more than 10 minutes. So, it’s easy to see how much energy operations and grid technology has improved thanks to battery energy storage systems technology.
What Does the Future Hold for Battery Energy Storage in the UK?
Stakeholders in the energy industry are now looking to improve technology that can provide a rapid response in such blackout scenarios. This will come from products like enhanced frequency response (EFR) batteries, improving the balancing mechanisms for better-distributed power generation, and building upon utility-scale battery storage solutions.
Another important consideration officials and stakeholders are beginning to make involve that of inertia. For example, on the day in August when the UK experienced its grid breakdown, there was significant wind energy that officials could have taken advantage of with the right technology.
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