Two more giant batteries planned in UK, says storage pioneer selling power to Shell

Plans are well advanced for at least two more giant batteries in the UK on the scale recently backed by a power deal with Shell, said the energy storage pioneer developing the projects.

Richard Thwaites, chairman of Penso Power, told Recharge the company is about “three months away from being investment ready” at its next 100MW storage site, with a third of the same size “a bit further down the track”.

Penso is developing the 150MW Minety battery project in southwest England, which claimed the mantle of Europe’s largest when it announced in February that it had secured a multi-year power offtake deal with Shell Energy Europe for the initial 100MW. Minety is backed by Chinese investment fund CNIC and Chinese power group Huaneng, which is building the project.

Thwaites declined to give further details of the future projects or investors, but said they would follow the model established by Minety, which focused on deployment at large scale and “de-risking” the proposition for infrastructure investors by signing a power deal with a blue-chip off-taker such as Shell.

“We have spoken to a number of Chinese investors – there’s a lot of Asian interest. We’ve had investors in Japan talking to us too,” said Thwaites, who added that installing 100MW battery systems means “our cost to deploy per megawatt is a lot lower than on a smaller site”.

Thwaites – who was previously chairman of Limejump, the energy trading specialist that’s now a subsidiary of Shell and will trade the power from Minety for the oil giant – said Penso’s vision is to tap into the ballooning requirement for storage as more output from variable renewables flows onto the grid.

“Intermittency means a greater need for storage, and more storage in turn facilitates the growth of renewable generation.”

Thwaites said while Penso’s initial crop of projects focuses on storing power from the grid, the company would not rule out co-locating with renewable generation projects. “It’s something we’ve looked at. We’ve so far had a couple of conversations relating to solar.”

The first 100MW phase of Minety is due to be installed by the autumn of this year using batteries from Samsung and CATL.

Thwaites said it was too early to say whether the current coronavirus epidemic would impact the schedule, but admitted that with components sourced from around the world, the company would need to closely monitor the situation.