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Zenobe to provide reactive power service to National Grid as part of ‘world-first’ project

Zenobe's Kings Barn site in Sussex. Image: Zenobe.

Zenobe's Kings Barn site in Sussex. Image: Zenobe.

Batteries are to be used for reactive power services for the grid as part of the ‘world-first’ Power Potential Project.

UK battery storage company Zenobe Energy is providing 10MW of battery storage, located at its King Barn facility in Sussex, which will provide reactive power services to National Grid ESO via UK Power Networks’ (UKPN) distribution network.

Reactive power is an increasingly important part of the UK grid, maintaining voltage levels to allow more energy to be transported down existing infrastructure. It therefore increases the capacity of the transmission system without having to upgrade infrastructure.

As more intermittent renewables have come onto the grid, the need to finely balance the voltage has led National Grid ESO to explore a number of reactive power solutions.

The Power Potential Project, spearheaded by National Grid ESO and UKPN, is looking for create a new reactive power market for distributed energy resources (DERs) in the South East. It could save consumers over £400m by 2050, as well as generating up to an additional 4GW.

National Grid ESO’s Power Potential Project lead, Dr. Biljana Stojkovska, explained: “Greater levels of renewable energy mean we are finding new ways of managing the electricity system.

“Our Power Potential project, in partnership with UK Power Networks, is a world first, using different technologies such as wind, solar and Zenobe’s batteries, to help provide reactive power and manage system voltage.

“It forms part of our ambition to be able to operate the electricity system carbon free by 2025 and has the potential to cut costs for energy consumers too – so we’re excited to see it progress over the coming months.”

Zenobe’s batteries will be able to absorb and generate reactive power to alleviate capacity challenges as distributed energy generation in the region continues to grow.

Live testing of the battery system will now take place with UK Power Networks throughout March, following successful trials in a lab last year.

James Basden, founder director at Zenobe Energy, said they were proud to be partnering with National Grid ESO and UKPN for the “world-first innovation project".

“This initiative will enable increased uptake of green energy in the region, without costly infrastructure upgrades, illustrating the vital role battery storage will continue to play in the development of a flexible and efficient electricity network that is fit for the future.”

Last November, Lightsource BP claimed a UK-first, providing reactive power services to National Grid ESO during nighttime hours using power generated by a solar farm as part of the Power Potential Project.

National Grid ESO has also announced a tender for reactive power absorption in the Mersey region, in an effort to solve a high voltage requirement in the area.

Zenobe is currently looking to increase its grid scale battery storage offering, after securing £25 million worth of funding from Santander at the end of 2019.

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