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Centrica supports Gateshead District Energy Scheme with battery system

01 December 2017

When Gateshead Council was looking for a battery storage system to complete its District Energy Scheme, it turned to Centrica.

Inside the Gateshead battery

The Council wanted a system that would be able to store or release energy to keep its private local energy network stable. Centrica installed a 3MW battery system made up of six separate units. 

The role of the battery is to respond to fluctuations in demand, keeping the grid stable. It will automatically kick in when needed, responding in around 140 milliseconds. While it will typically only be used a few hours a day, it will be available 24 hours a day if needed. 

The facility can have multiple roles, able to manage peak power demand or store excess energy, either from the local network, or National Grid. The total capacity of the battery system is equivalent to one million AA battery cells. It is capable of storing enough energy to power 3,000 homes for one hour, making it one of the country’s largest commercial battery storage schemes. 

The battery is one element of the Gateshead District Energy Scheme, which includes the Gateshead District Energy Centre, and Council buildings, businesses and homes. The Centre consists of a pair of 2MW combined heat and power (CHP) units which generate enough electricity for 5,000 homes. With efficiencies of up to 85 percent, CHP units help the efficiency of the whole network. 

Power for the network is distributed via a private network of high voltage electricity cables, and heat from the CHP units is transferred through 3km of heat pipes. The network runs between the battery storage system, and Gateshead Energy Centre, as well as well-known Tyneside buildings such as Gateshead College and the Sage Gateshead. Council-owned homes will also be part of the network. Around 350 local homes and businesses are connected to the battery. 

Gateshead Council and Centrica have agreed a 10 year contract to optimise the battery storage system. By providing capacity and frequency flexibility to the grid, the system can provide an additional revenue stream for the Council. 

Centrica’s battery storage system has strengthened resilience, and helped to make the Gateshead District Energy Scheme more flexible. It also helps generate cost savings. Initial customers of the Scheme can expect to save 10 percent on their heating bills and 5 percent on electricity bills. 

The Gateshead District Energy scheme is a pioneering example of how batteries can be used within an energy network. Batteries can be combined with solar panels in homes to allow homeowners to use solar power generated during the day in the evening when it’s most needed. Businesses might choose to charge their battery from the grid when energy is cheap, and discharge it when demand is high on site. 

Battery storage systems have the potential to create flexibility in energy systems, whether for homes, businesses or wider networks.

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