Final 5MW goes live at UK’s largest council-owned battery storage site


The final 5MW of battery storage at South Somerset District Council’s (SSDC) ground-breaking site at Fideoak Mill in Taunton has been commissioned by Kiwi Power.

The additional £2.5 million ($3.3 million) investment brings the site’s total capacity to 30MW, the UK’s largest council-owned battery storage site. Technology company Kiwi Power’s proprietary hardware, Fruit, was installed on all 22 battery units so that the site can provide grid balancing services to National Grid.

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In June, Kiwi Power commissioned the first 25MW of the project in four days. The final phase of the project – a further 5MW in capacity – has now also been commissioned. In total, 67 Fruits are synchronised together so that the site can participate in any of the UK’s 15 flexibility markets.

The site is unusual in the fact that the site controller must be able to simultaneously shut off all batteries with immediate effect in response to a constraint signal from Western Power Distribution. To facilitate this, Kiwi Power developed a solution based on its proprietary technology that could interpret the incoming signal and simultaneous dispatch it to each of the 22 units on site. Complete synchronicity was key to ensuring proper management. By adapting the existing infrastructure, site completion continued without delay or additional cost to the client.

“Councils across the UK are seeking to make the most out of their sustainability and carbon emissions investments as they seek to meet increasingly stringent targets. Landmark projects such as Fideoak are vital for demonstrating how investments in battery storage and renewables are value-adding and income-generating,” said Thomas Jennings, Head of Optimisation, Kiwi Power.

“With rapidly changing market dynamics, SSDC will be relying on our co-optimisation team to ensure that the £12 million ($16 million) asset always participates in the right market at the right time so that it delivers the maximum return possible for the investment,” Jennings added.

David Owen, Director of Opium Power, said: “Our partnership with South Somerset District Council and Kiwi Power has worked extremely well. The 30MW Taunton Battery Energy Storage System is the first of several very exciting joint ventures with local authorities and private sector investors that Opium Power is progressing to deliver stability to a sustainably powered grid.

“The UK has already accepted that we must adapt our electricity generation system to be carbon zero compliant by the use of renewables, and indeed the Government has legislated for it. Grid-scale battery storage is the essential required component to stabilise the inherently unstable and non-dispatchable energy generated by solar and wind.”

Alistair Lowe, Head of Hardware at Kiwi Power, said: “We were able to commission the site in record time despite COVID-19 disruption. Relying on our proprietary hardware and VPP platform, along with a simulator that we built to test the code, we have been able to automate much of the commissioning and perform it remotely instead.”