RedT’s vanadium flow batteries connected to UK farm and holiday development

Utilities company Centrica has signed up vanadium flow battery developer RedT Energy as the first official participant in its local energy market trial, in which £19 million ($25million) has been allocated to test flexible power generation and storage to reduce pressure on the local grid.

RedT’s 1MWh ‘machines’ — the firm does not consider them batteries — were officially connected to the grid on November 13.

The machines will store energy generated by solar panels at a 600-acre farm, the Olde House, in north Cornwall in the south of England, which also has a number of holiday homes.

When holidaymakers come back from the beach in the evening, there will be enough power stored in the batteries to provide electricity for their overnight needs — with estimated savings of 50% on grid imports during peak periods.

Centrica’s project was launched in December 2016 with Western Power Distribution, the University of Exeter and the National Grid and funded by Centrica, the British Gas Energy for Tomorrow fund and a grant from the European Regional Development Fund.

It is part of a shift away from large power stations to smaller, more distributed providers, making it possible for users to trade any excess generation with other consumers, said Joe Worthington, a RedT spokesperson.

“Now these machines are up and running, Centrica will take control of the operation of the system and use them to trade energy,” he said.

“In addition to traditional contracted grid services such as frequency response, merchant revenue services like this will play an important part of our future energy system.”

RedT says its flow machines will last for more than 25 years.

“The Olde House is a perfect example of how UK businesses can now utilize more of their renewable generation and make money supporting the electricity grid,” said RedT CEO Scott McGregor. He reckons the potential market for behind-the-meter energy storage in the UK is in the range of 3,000 GWh.