World’s largest battery charging network planned for the UK

18 June 2018

18 June 2018

UK company Pivot Power is planning to develop a 2-gigawatt network of grid-scale batteries and rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging points around the country.

The £1.6 billion (€1.8 billion) programme will provide infrastructure to support the rapid adoption of EVs and underpin clean air policies while introducing valuable flexibility into the energy system to accommodate the demands of mass EV charging and higher levels of intermittent renewable generation.

Pivot Power plans to develop 45 sites around the country, installing grid-scale 50MW batteries at electricity sub-stations connected directly to the extra-high-voltage transmission system. These will give the electricity system operator National Grid a huge resource in managing supply and demand.

The battery network will be the world’s biggest, storing enough electricity to supply 235,000 average homes for a day. It will have the ability to release or absorb two thirds the power of the planned Hinkley C nuclear power plant in response to grid balancing requirements.

Sites have been chosen near towns and major roads where they can also power rapid EV charging stations. These will be fed directly by the transmission system, and so will be able to offer mass charging at competitive rates, supporting up to 100 rapid 150KW chargers. They will also be able to support rapid 350KW chargers when they are available in the UK.

Graeme Cooper, National Grid Project Director for Electric Vehicles, said: ″We expect the use of electric vehicles to grow rapidly. This innovative solution will help accelerate adoption by providing a network of rapid charging stations across the country enabling cars to charge quickly, efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.

″It will also give the system operator more choice and flexibility for managing the demands in the day to day running of the network, and also help mass EV charging″.

There have been concerns that the UK’s power grid is not set up to cope with the expected load from EV charging should the technology become mainstream. However, the new scheme revealed by Pivot Power will aid electrical generation while also offering a charge point for EVs.

In February, it was announced that the National Grid was to install a number of fast-charging EV points along UK motorways, at spots it had mapped out strategically. Those locations mean that more than 90% of drivers would be able to drive in any direction from any location in the UK and be within 50 miles of an ultra-rapid charger.

The grid infrastructure would cost between £500 million (€568 million) and £1 billion (€1.1 billion), or about 60p (68 cents) per driver per year if all motorists paid towards the process, according to National Grid estimates.