Surge in renewables sector for battery storage sites

by Hannah van Rooyen

Smith Brothers was recently featured in the Winter issue of Energy Management magazine, with a project spotlight focusing on how the team successfully energised the 15MW Lockleaze Fast Frequency Response (FFR) facility in Bristol. If you missed the story, you can read it in full here…


When high voltage power specialist Smith Brothers was awarded the Independent Connections Provider (ICP) contract for the UK’s biggest battery project, strict deadlines had to be met to ensure the facility was fully operational on time. Director David Ogden explores why schemes like these are gaining momentum in the UK energy market and explains what it takes to get a Fast Frequency Response (FFR) site up-and-running…

2017 has certainly been a promising year for the UK renewables market – recent statistics show that electricity generation from renewable sources reached a record high of 29.8% in Q2 this year. And whilst attention largely remains on generation technology – most notably solar PV, wind and increasingly biomass too – there has also been an uplift in talk surrounding the capacity for energy storage to aid in the UK’s target to achieve a greener, more cost-effective and efficient grid.

Battery sites in particular have become something of a hot topic recently, in the UK and beyond. With experts predicting further growth on the horizon across the renewables sector over the next 12 months, the need to balance supply and demand is increasing and battery sites are beginning to play a rising part in the UK’s energy agenda as a result. And it’s not just a trend we’re witnessing here – developers have set their sights on creating the world’s first large-scale battery facility in Australia, solely for the storage of sustainably generated energy, while the US and Germany are much further ahead in terms of the total number of battery installations.

Back on home soil, when power engineering specialist Smith Brothers was enlisted as the ICP for the UK’s largest standalone battery facility at the time, tight timescales and media attention meant there was no room for mistakes to be made.

Sustainable storage

Commissioned by clean energy leader Hazel Capital, in partnership with Noriker Power, Smith Brothers was tasked to deliver National Grid 30MW, split across three battery storage sites.

The 15MW Lockleaze Fast Frequency Response (FFR) facility in Bristol is the first storage site of its kind in the UK. The scheme was developed by renewables experts Aura Power and is expected to set a new precedent for battery generation export capacity in the UK energy sector.

Having been appointed as the ICP for the prestigious assignment by EPC Contractor Metka-EGN, high voltage specialist Smith Brothers was tasked with carrying out the electrical connections and substation constructions for all three battery storage schemes.

Renowned in the industry for its turnkey provisions – managing all aspects of electrical connections from the preparatory phases through to final commissioning and testing – Smith Brothers was responsible for the design, project management and delivery of the 33kV infrastructural connection to the battery storage facility.

Turnkey ICP works

For all three sites Smith Brothers undertook extensive design studies involving P28 and P29 Stage 2 & 3 to clarify the harmonics assessments.

In preparation for the civils, the team additionally carried out design calculations and flood risk examinations of the area, which enabled accurate plans to be drawn for the substation foundations.

Lockleaze point of connection was located nearby at the existing Western Power Distribution BSP 132/33kV substation and the civils team carried out 80 metres of trenching to install three single core 33kV 185mm2 CU EPR cables.

As part of the contestable works package, Smith Brothers was also responsible for establishing a suitable 33kV substation for Western Power Distribution including procurement, installation and commissioning of a 2-Panel NX Plus Siemens switchboard.

On this development, the team was additionally contracted by the client to provide a containerised solution for the private side of the project too. As well as the procurement, design, supply and installation of a nine-panel switchboard, this entailed installing and commissioning the interconnection cables between the private and DNO substations.

Rising to the challenge

No HV connections project is without obstacles to overcome – for the Lockleaze assignment, these challenges came in the form of particularly tight timescales. Deadlines inevitably place demands on all parties, but Smith Brothers managed to fulfil these by sourcing alternative delivery solutions and ensuring momentum was maintained on-site through all phases of the works to achieve a compliant WPD adoptable system and private system connection.

And, thanks to the team’s dedicated approach and on-the-spot problem-solving, the job was successfully energised two weeks in advance of the final deadline.

Commenting on the connection completion, project manager Iliana Malatra said: “This project was a notable one for Smith Brothers – not only because of the battery’s sheer level of generation output capacity, but also the wider recognition the project has received. As the renewables market continues to expand, we’re finding our services for assignments like these are in high demand. And as we look towards 2018 and beyond, we’re expecting to see even more of an uplift in demand for ICP works on battery facilities like these.”

Surge in renewables sector for battery storage sites Surge in renewables sector for battery storage sites
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