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Case study

Smarter Network Storage case study: a pioneering project

03 February 2017

UK Power Networks is investigating using energy storage to add flexibility to the power supply network. Increasing demand, and more (intermittent) renewable energy sources are making it more demanding to match supply and demand.

Smarter Network Storage case study: a pioneering project
Smarter Network Storage batteries (Image courtesy of UK Power Networks).

Project name: Smarter Network Storage
Funding mechanism: LCNF Tier 2
Funding amount: LCNF: £13.2m
UK Power Networks and partners: £5.5m
Overall: £18.7m
Status: Live
Start date: January 2013
End date: December 2016

Smarter Network Storage (SNS) is:

  • a pioneering £18.7m project
  • from January 2013 to December 2016
  • aiming to maximise value from electrical storage
  • first large scale battery on the National Grid
  • 6MW/10MWh storage with ~50k lithium-ion batteries

Unique and pioneering

SNS is the first storage solution of its kind to be commissioned in the UK and the first large-scale battery to support National Grid.


At the UK Power Networks substation in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, local electricity demand was higher than what the substation could provide

Usual solution

Normally a new transformer would have been purchased and installed, offering much more capacity than the substation was predicted to need.

The storage solution

A 6MW/10MWh storage solution comprising approximately 50,000 lithium-ion batteries was installed. During average electricity demand times, this is enough to power about 1,100 UK homes for a whole day or over 27,000 homes for one hour.

The benefits of storage

This technology has enabled UK Power Networks to manage electricity demand at peak times without building excess capacity. By charging during the day, the Big Battery stores electricity that can then be dispatched in the evening when residential customers in the town need it.

Storage offers three types of benefits:

  • Network reinforcement alternatives. By using electricity storage, Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) can defer reinforcement investments, leading to substantial consumer savings.
  • System stability. Storage provides key flexibility services including:
    • Peak shaving: allows DNOs to reduce peak times of electricity consumption
    • Reactive power support: helps reduce electricity losses in the network
    • Frequency response: enables National Grid to stabilise the frequency of the system
    • Electricity reserve: helps overcome the intermittency of renewable generation
  • Wider market benefits. Storage can offer wholesale market trading opportunities for other market participants.

Project findings and conclusions

The SNS project has delivered many benefits ranging from:

  • peak demand reduction on the site,
  • support balancing supply and demand, and
  • lower carbon dioxide emissions (from lower peak generation).

The project has shed light on the regulatory framework challenges brought by an asset that is not classified as an asset. Finally, the SNS project has provided evidence on the potential of grid-scale storage and the revenues associated with it. These results will be useful for the industry and policy makers to understand, as the uptake of storage increases.

Main conclusions:

  • Storage can do many things e.g. provide reliable reserves; give power for peak shaving; battery storage can provide both static and dynamic frequency response;
  • Commercial solutions are required to extract the most value from storage
  • Network operators must develop new capabilities for using storage: i.e. more coordination is needed between stakeholders, internal and external to the DNO

Download the full case study below for more detail

Final evaluation of the Smarter Network Storage solution

Further information

  1. Final evaluation of the Smarter Network Storage solution; UK Power Networks; 2016
  2. Electricity storage: Realising the potential; ICE Thought leadership policy paper; 2015
  3. ICE's submission to National Infrastructure Commission consultation on electricity interconnection and storage; ICE; 2016
  4. Electricity transmission and distribution briefing sheet; ICE; 2014
  5. Mains electricity: batteries now included; Infrastructure blog article; ICE; 2015
  6. Creating a smarter, more flexible energy system; Infrastructure blog article; ICE; 2016
  7. Changing times - can UK energy stay on target?; Infrastructure blog article; ICE; 2016
  8. Powering future cities in the UK; Infrastructure blog article; ICE; 2016
  9. Our energy infrastructure future: smarter living and central electricity generation? Cardiff; Recorded lecture; ICE; 2015
  10. UK energy policy implications for engineers, Edinburgh; Recorded lecture; ICE; 2016
  11. Vulnerability assessment of the European natural gas supply, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Energy journal article; ICE Publishing; 2015
  12. Structural Engineering of Transmission Lines; ICE Publishing; 2014UK Power Networks logo
  • Adriana Laguna-Estopier, knowledge content producer at ICE