Record 800MWh of utility-scale storage added in 2022, according to Solar Media

Released: February 2, 2023 at 1:01 p.m

Companies like Penso – who developed the Minety project (pictured) – are increasingly looking at dual term sites. Image: Penso Power.

The UK added a record 800MWh of new energy storage capacity for utilities last year as the sector nears GWh additions by 2030 and beyond.

In fact, the UK’s energy storage pipeline increased significantly by 34.5 GW in 2022. By the end of the year, a total of 2.4 GW/2.6 GWh had been connected to battery storage sites.

This article discusses the significant growth of the energy storage pipeline over the past year and what to expect in the years to come.

Provision rates of energy storage

Over the course of 2022, operational energy storage capacity in the UK increased by nearly 800 MWh, the largest annual deployment figure to date. In the first quarter of 2022, the first 50 MW/100 MWh project (50 MW with a two-hour runtime) was installed; Stonehill Energy Storage developed by Penso Power.

Energy storage deployment in the UK had the highest annual installed capacity in 2022 at 569 MW/789 MWh. Image: solar media.

The chart above shows the built capacity of energy storage in the UK by project size and year, with deployment levels in 2022 exceeding the 2021 annual installed capacity of 617 MWh.

The first major utility scale battery storage project was powered in 2017 – a 50MW/25MWh project in Pelham developed and owned by Statera Energy.

In the future, deployment levels are likely to increase annually; There are currently over 2.6GW/4.3GWh of energy storage projects under construction, which are expected to be completed within the next 18 months.

In recent years there has been more of a mix of project sizes, but site capacities are increasing and most projects built in 2021 and 2022 were at least 20MW in size. The majority of these installed sites were standalone projects at the 50 MW level.

In 2017 there was only one project with a size of 50 MW; In 2021 and 2022, nine 50MW projects were installed each year. The average project size in 2017 was 4.4 MWh and the average project size in 2022 was 36 MWh; This is partly due to an increase in battery life.

Looking at the asset owners of these operations (particularly in recent years), many are owned by large asset owners such as Gresham House and Pivot Power. These companies have huge pipelines of energy storage projects that are starting construction now, which means installed capacity will accelerate rapidly in the short to medium term.

The majority of projects deployed in 2022 were submitted for planning between 2017 and 2019, and there is still a large amount of pipelines submitted during this period pending construction. this points to further growth in installed energy storage capacity in the coming years.

The construction status of energy storage projects

A large number of projects have been approved in the planning phase, including many projects of 100 MW or more. Image: solar media.

To summarize the above figure:

  • The UK now has 2.4GW/2.6GWh of operational energy storage across 161 sites.
  • 20.2 GW have been approved in planning, including 33 sites of 100 MW or more, which means these projects are unlikely to be affected by future (possible) planning changes. These projects are expected to be completed in the next three to four years.
  • Of the approved projects, 4.9 GW also have a grid connection, i.e. are either in the construction phase or about to be built.
  • 11 GW of projects have been submitted for planning and a decision is expected in the coming months.
  • 28.1 GW are still in the pre-application phase, some have submitted scoping or screening requests. However, some of these projects have yet to submit them, including some major projects in the TEC register.

The projects under “not active”, totaling 2.3 GW, were either rejected from planning, abandoned or decommissioned, but are still viable for future site activities.

The growing energy storage pipeline

The entire UK energy storage pipeline is now 61.5 GW across 1,319 sites. Image: solar media.

The chart above shows the submitted capacity of energy storage projects by co-location and by quarter; The entire pipeline has now reached 61.5 GW across 1,310 sites.

After seeing some projects succeed in the Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) auction in 2016, many developers were motivated to submit more applications for battery storage, leading to a flood of applications in 2017. The rate of submitted capacity then slowed down for a years, but since 2021 submitted capacity is increasing significantly.

Over the course of 2021, the pipeline grew by 11 GW to more than 27 GW, in part due to the raising of the 50MW threshold and as companies become more experienced with the services available, allowing for more attractive revenue streams.

2022 shows a record-breaking annual planned capacity of 20.7 GW across 295 sites, including approximately 500 MW projects and one 1 GW project. Most of these projects are expected to involve batteries with a duration of at least two hours (compared to 2017 when projects had a duration of 0.5 or 1 hour).

For battery storage sites, the project size usually depends on the type of project to be developed. Previously, the most common size for energy storage sites was 50MW (although sites are now being planned to be larger). However, battery storage capacity tends to be lower when installed alongside solar and other renewable energy.

The planned capacities are increasingly dominated by large projects. The first wave of applications submitted in 2017 saw 4.8 GW submitted at 238 sites during the year. However, after the 50 MW threshold was lifted in 2020, the next spate of applications in 2021 had 11.3 GW across 229 submitted sites. The number of applications is very similar, but the difference in capacity is huge.

More than half of the capacity submitted in Q3 2022 (4.4 GW out of 7 GW) came from sites larger than 100 MW, and almost all of the capacity submitted during this period (6.5 GW out of 7 GW) came from sites with more than 50 MW.

It is fair to say that the significant movement in 2022 points to a bright future for the UK energy storage market and we will likely see large amounts of energy storage capacity connected in the coming years.

All data and analysis shown in this article comes from our in-house market research at Solar Media Ltd. For full details on subscribing to our UK battery storage project database report, click here.

This article originally appeared on Solar Power Portal’s sister site Energy Storage News.

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