First EFR project goes live
The first Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) asset on Britain’s electricity grid is now live. The 10MW battery was specifically built to provide EFR and has been developed by E.ON UK. This is a landmark for energy balancing. Leon Walker, GB System Operator Quantitative Analysis Manager from National Grid’s Commercial Electricity team explains why.
First EFR project goes live
"EFR represents one of the first commercial opportunities for battery technology in the UK"
Leon Walker, GB System Operator Quantitative Analysis Manager from National Grid’s Commercial Electricity team.
The battery at Blackburn Meadows is the size of four shipping containers and has the same power as about 100 family cars.
Source: E.ON UK.
On the outskirts of Sheffield, just off the M1 motorway, a little piece of energy history is being written on E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows site. This is home to a newly-built 10MW lithium-ion battery that has become one of the first of its kind to play a role in balancing the grid.
The development is significant because National Grid is now able to use battery storage to provide EFR. It’s an ultra-fast way of keeping the grid stable by preventing any rapid variations in frequency. EFR also represents one of the first commercial opportunities for battery technology in the UK.
According to E.ON’s figures, the battery at Blackburn Meadows is the size of four shipping containers and has the same power as about 100 family cars. Housed alongside an existing biomass combined heat and power plant on the site, it can also hold the same amount of energy as around 500,000 mobile phone batteries.
However, while the scale of the battery is impressive, it’s how the technology is going to be used that’s even more significant.
The importance of system frequency
System frequency is a way of measuring the balance between the amount of energy generated and the amount used. To keep the grid stable we must maintain frequency within 1% of 50Hz – the standard for the GB grid. This is becoming more challenging as the energy mix changes.
The connection of more intermittent generation such as wind and solar power has the effect of reducing inertia on the system. This increases the risk of rapid changes in frequency. EFR provides us with an important part of the solution.
How EFR works
Prior to EFR, we used two main methods to maintain system frequency. Mandatory Frequency Response changes active power output automatically. Commercial Frequency Response Services involve providers adjusting either their generation or demand in response to frequency variations.
The big difference with EFR is speed. Previously, the response times were from 2 seconds. With EFR, the response is less than a second, so the adjustment to frequency is almost instant.
The contracted providers receive availability payments per hour to increase or decrease their output to smooth any deviations in frequency.
The road to EFR
The E.ON storage facility is the first to begin operation following an EFR tender that we began in 2016 for 200MW of capacity over the next four years. We had a huge response to the tender, with more than 1,200MW of service offers from 64 projects.
Following the tender process, National Grid selected eight providers to supply EFR services under contract. The various providers have since been busy building and testing the assets, and we expect to see them connecting to the system over the coming months.
Following on from E.ON’s project, the other EFR providers are Low Carbon with two schemes (40MW and 10MW), EDF Energy Renewables (49MW), RES (35MW), Element Power (25MW), Vattenfall (22MW), and Belectric (10MW). Together, the eight projects will deliver a total capacity of 201MW.
Benefits to consumers
Why does this change matter to the public? Security of energy supplies is vital to the nation’s economy. Currently, one way that National Grid ensures the stability of the grid is through Frequency Response services. With EFR we will be able to offset the amount of these services required and reduce overall costs.
Over the four-year lifetime of the current EFR programme, we estimate that it will save in the region of £200m. This is good news for consumers and it also paves the way for battery technology to establish itself as a key component of our energy system.