Image: Northern Powergrid.

Battery systems could allow 25% more renewable electricity to be used during peak times, Northern Powergrid has found in its Distributed Storage and Solar Study.

Launched in 2017, the trial saw 40 community homes managed by Energise Barnsley and Berneslai Homes receive batteries that were connected using energy technology firm Moixa’s software to form a virtual power plant (VPP) in Oxspring, Barnsley.

The software connected and managed the smart batteries, along with electric vehicle charging and the 27 sets of solar panels within the network.

Northern Powergrid found that the system reduced demand for electricity during peak times, when power is most expensive and dirtiest, by 25%. This helped manage grid constraint, reducing the need for costly improvements to the wider network.

The solar panels allowed consumers to save up to £60 a year by storing free solar during sunny periods which could then be used overnight.

Additionally, the trial found that when batteries were operate during certain times of the day, the impact they had almost doubled.

Patrick Erwin, policy and markets director at Northern Powergrid, said that intelligently managing energy networks is “essential” to achieving the UK’s environmental goals.

“Practical projects like this are crucial in delivering a practical understanding about the best ways we, as a network operator, can best support our customers and become an enabler in delivering net zero ambitions.

“Following the findings of this trial, we would like to see the UK Government and energy regulators consider the role of storage in network management in more detail, potentially offering financial incentives to stimulate the market in areas where storage can deliver social as well as system benefits.”

Northern Powergrid said that learnings about the size and aesthetics of the batteries had also been identified, that it could carry forwards in recommendations and development of similar smart systems.

The batteries are expected to retain 80% of their capacity over the next decade, allowing for continued savings.

A number of companies are looking to batteries and VPPs in an effort to increase flexibility and reduce the need for constraint management. Earlier this year, for example, Centrica and sonnen announced that they had completed a project that consists of 100 sonnen batteries, installed and connected using Centrica’s cloud-based Flexpond software.