Smart energy infrastructure company, SMS plc (SMS), has started construction of a 50 MW battery storage development in Burwell, Cambridgeshire, UK, marking its entry into the grid-scale energy storage market. Work on a second site in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK, will get underway in late February 2021 to establish an additional 40 MW of capacity. The two projects are the first in an initial 270 MW pipeline that SMS seeks to build over the next two years.
SMS Managing Director, John Hall [left], and Head of Supply Chain, Phil Norrish [right], break ground at 50 MW battery storage development in Burwell, Cambridgeshire, UK.
SMS – which finances, installs, and manages low-carbon energy assets across the grid – will deliver the projects in their entirety, from initial construction through to ongoing operation, trading, maintenance, and asset management for the 40 year lifespan of the batteries. Construction of the Burwell battery development is slated for completion in 4Q2021, whilst build of the Barnsley site is expected to finish soon after.
In addition to facilitating greater penetration of intermittent renewable energy, the combined 90 MW of capacity will deliver a range of balancing and ancillary services essential for building responsiveness, flexibility, and resilience of the grid. The capability of battery storage to support the grid in this way means that increased deployment of the technology is critical in the transition to a low-carbon energy system, and in meeting the UK government’s net-zero 2050 goal.
The utility-scale storage market received a boost in 2020 after changes to planning legislation meant that storage developments in England would no longer be limited to under 50 MW. This opened the market for more sizeable projects of 50 MW and above to help tackle increased grid volatility as well as overall decarbonisation efforts. The UK currently has over 1 GW of storage in operation and an ever-growing pipeline of projects across the country.
Commenting on the launch of the new projects, Tim Mortlock, Chief Operating Officer at SMS, said: “With construction underway to establish 90 MW of battery storage in Burwell and Barnsley, today signifies SMS’s arrival in the utility-scale storage market. Over time, we are aiming to establish a strong pipeline in this space, building on decades of dedication and expertise in developing Britain’s low-carbon energy infrastructure. This includes our continued national rollout of smart metres and several ongoing projects to develop smart energy systems across a range of distributed generation, storage, heat and electric vehicle charging solutions.”
Mortlock added: “The case for battery storage and the wider benefits they deliver to the grid is undoubted. When operational, our batteries will play an important role in improving the adoption of cleaner, lower-cost renewables and help bolster system resilience as we come to rely on more intermittent forms of generation. An increased capacity of batteries on the grid will, in many ways, also contribute to a more affordable energy system for consumers. These benefits are central pillars of the government’s net-zero 2050 target, and our business strategy is to deliver the network of low-carbon assets needed to reach that goal as soon as possible.”
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