Battery storage facilities are one of the key components of new, smart energy systems. They not only offer facilities to house electricity for periods of peak demand, they may also make it easier to connect renewable energy sources to the grid, free up network capacity, and keep down electricity prices. Aston University, funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and in partnership with Sheffield and Southampton universities, have developed a £4 million battery near Walsall, West Midlands, offering the perfect facility for testing storage technology.

The battery is sited at Western Power Distribution’s electricity substation and is the largest of its kind in the UK. The partners chose a 1 MWh lithium titanate battery, due to its speed of charge/ discharge, long-life, and high safety level. This is combined with a 2MW inverter and a number of bespoke converters, designed to assess the viability of recycling used electric vehicle batteries as storage units.

The facility is currently providing industry partners with the opportunity to carry out tests without normal commercial and regulatory constraints, and offers the flexibility to test both other inverters with the existing battery, or different battery technologies with the existing inverter.

Battery storage facilities are attracting increasing attention from both policy makers and network operators, who recognise that they are becoming an efficient way to help secure our future energy supply. The West Midlands’ thriving manufacturing base and rapidly expanding population make it the obvious location to test and roll out these exciting energy technologies.