Centrica and Con Edison turn Brooklyn lot into energy innovation hub

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Utilities Centrica and Con Edison are partnering to implement a clean energy innovation project In New York. The project includes integrating electric vehicle charging equipment with a battery energy storage system.

The project is a result of US utility Con Edison selecting the UK’s Centrica Business Solutions for the construction and operation of a 5MW/15MWh battery storage system and 18 DC fast EV chargers. The battery storage system will have the capacity to hold 5 million watts, equivalent to the energy requirements of 5,000 apartments, for hours during the summer peak. Centrica will also own the battery and EV chargers.

The EV chargers will provide 350KV to fully charge an EV in less than an hour. The system will be built at an empty lot owned by Con Edson, initially set aside for the construction of a substation. The integrated EV chargers and battery storage system will be connected to Con Edison’s grid to allow Centrica to sell its battery services into the wholesale market as part of a virtual power plant. Centrica will charge the batteries with power from Con Edison’s grid during the overnight hours when the demand for power is lower and power is less expensive.

Centrica will make lease payments to Con Edison for use of the land. The construction of the project is expected to be completed by 2022 and the battery system is expected to operate until 2035.

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Con Edison will use the lessons learned regarding EV charging from the project to make informed decisions on how best to accelerate the development of ultra-fast EV chargers in its service territory.

The project is part of a broader strategy by utilities especially in developed economies to prepare for anticipated growth in EVs as electrification intensifies under efforts to decarbonise the transport and energy sectors.

The lack of EV charging infrastructure is one of the main factors identified hindering the growth of the EV market. As the number of EVs continue to expand so does the demand for charging stations. By 2050, some 875 million electric passenger vehicles are expected to bring the total number of EVs on the road to 950 million, a new report released by Wood Mackenzie states. More than three out of every five vehicles on the roads are expected to be electric vehicles in China, Europe, and the US by 2050. 

Ram Chandrasekaran, Wood Mackenzie Head of Road Transport, said: “Net-zero is the new mantra and road transport is one of the low-hanging fruits. A growing list of countries and automakers are committing to carbon-neutral targets and this has completely transformed the global road transport landscape.

“In Q1 2021 alone, electric vehicle sales rocketed to almost 550,000, which represents a 66% increase over the same period last year. The re-emergence of the US as a climate leader and China’s net-zero target is key to this surge.”

The number of charging points is expected to hit 550 million by 2050, with the majority of them being residential units. However, there is a need for the enactment of new policies and subsidies supporting an increase in the installation of EV charging units, states the report.