The UK’s first large-scale battery has been connected to the grid in Orkney.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) is running the trial project on the remote Scottish islands to investigate how the intermittent nature of renewable energy generation can be resolved.  

The battery has been installed at Kirkwall Power Station and will operate through signals sent by the existing Active Network Management scheme. The battery will enable the storage of excess renewable energy that would otherwise be constrained from the network.

SHEPD’s head of commercial Mark Rough said: “This exciting trial will provide valuable research into the viability of using batteries for electricity storage. This is likely to become increasingly important to help balance the variable output from renewable forms of generation as we move to a largely decarbonised electricity generation mix”.

The 2MW lithium-ion battery has been manufactured by Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The battery was already successfully trialed in Nagasaki, Japan where it ran continuously for two years.

Rough added: “Although the installation of the battery will not provide an immediate solution to the current constraints on the Orkney distribution network, it is hoped that in the long term the result of the studies will help demonstrate that batteries could provide a cost effective way of freeing up capacity on the network to help facilitate new connections of low carbon generation.”

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur welcomed the energy storage trial, he said: “This is an exciting initiative and I am delighted to see Orkney leading the way in the development of energy storage options. Our islands have huge potential for generating renewable energy, but a lack of sufficient grid capacity is a growing problem. The active network management system has freed up capacity to allow many local projects to be connected to the grid in recent years, but new solutions now need to be found if Orkney is to realise its full potential in renewables.

“I am certain that battery storage has an important role to play in ensuring we make best use of the resources at our disposal. While it is not a short-term solution, the work being undertaken as part of this initiative could deliver significant and long-lasting benefits to Orkney and more widely.”

The energy storage trial is being funded by Ofgem’s Low carbon Networks Fund. Energy storage looks set to play a pivotal role in the development of the solar study; a recent study by IHS has predicted that the residential PV storage market alone will hit 2.5GW by 2017.