Battery storage and the electricity network

Used batteries that are no longer capable of powering electric vehicles can still make a valuable contribution to our energy system. We're developing ways to use these batteries to build an efficient and sustainable electricity network that's better at storing energy.

 As our grid evolves, additional storage capacity is required to help balance supply and demand. With a growing penetration of renewable energy technologies and additional loads as some sectors decarbonise through electrification, storage becomes key to an efficient electricity network.

Grid connected batteries can help our energy network in a number of ways:

  • They can store power from the grid at times of low demand, allowing it to be used at more expensive peak times
  • They can move power generated from renewable sources from times when renewable energy is available but demand is low to times when demand is high
  • For inflexible baseload nuclear generation, they can move power demand from times of high use to times when there is excess supply
  • They can trade with the grid and provide power at peak times to earn additional revenue
  • They can help to protect businesses and critical services through a reliable backup supply

Maintaining the stability of the grid is critical. Battery technologies provide a scalable and modular solution to grid energy storage, but new batteries are expensive.

Within the Birmingham Energy Institute, the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage is examining how vehicle batteries that have served their purpose in electric vehicles can be used to provide grid storage and services.

Electric vehicles require batteries with a high energy density to give the range and performance that car buyers want, however, there comes a point in the vehicle battery’s lifecycle, where it reaches a state where it is no longer useful in a vehicle application – but still has a great deal of residual value as a battery.

Grid connected second-life battery systems can help in the management of the grid, by providing services such as frequency control, peak shaving and valley filling.

At the Birmingham Energy Institute’s Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage, we are evaluating a wide range of different energy storage technologies and looking at how they integrate with the grid.