Skip to content

New Battery Storage Launched In Wales–But Who Pays For It?

February 22, 2018

By Paul Homewood



From PEI:





UK energy storage developer KiWi Power has launched a multi-million-pound smart battery system in Wales.

The size of three shipping containers, the 4 MW system took three months to build and will provide balancing services to National Grid to regulate the frequency of Britain’s electricity network.

KiWi Power said it “marks a significant milestone in the application of ‘behind-the-meter’ smart battery technology in the UK, with capacity to store enough energy to power thousands of Welsh homes when needed, helping to build a low carbon economy in Wales”.

The system is located at Cenin Renewables at Parc Stormy near Bridgend, a 20-acre cluster of integrated clean energy technologies that includes a solar farm, an anaerobic digestion plant and a wind turbine.

“This is all about having green energy in reserve and we are delighted to play our part delivering a reliable, sustainable power source whilst providing local economic development and helping Wales reach its low emissions targets,” said Martyn Popham, Cenin managing director.

He added: “Smart batteries are both green and cost-effective, reducing the need for inefficient backup power stations by allowing excess energy to be stored and used when the sun isn’t shining and the wind has stopped blowing”.



Enough energy to power thousands of Welsh homes when needed? Impressed?

Well, perhaps not!

According to Kiwi Power themselves:


In other words, it can only supply its 4MW for 72 minutes, hardly long enough to be of any use to those “thousands of Welsh homes” when the sun isn’t shining and the wind has stopped blowing.



In reality it has nothing at all to do with “supplying homes”. It is simply just a money making scheme.

The FFR contract it has is worth £666k a year, all of course to be paid for by bill payers.

The National Grid has a licence obligation to control system frequency at 50Hz plus or minus 1%, and has always had a range of tolls to enable it to do so.

However, as energy consultants Origami Energy explain:

Firm Frequency Response is a service provided by energy users to National Grid, which uses approved assets to quickly reduce demand or increase generation to help balance the grid and avoid power outages.

The current UK power network is becoming increasingly challenging to balance. At times of high volatility, National Grid needs additional flexible generation and demand to balance the system and avoid power outages. Firm frequency response (FFR) uses approved assets to quickly reduce demand or increase generation when there is a large deviation in system frequency. Energy asset owners are rewarded for providing this service all year round, even if it is never deployed.


In other words, storage systems like Kiwi’s are only needed because of the increasing capacity of unreliable wind and solar power.

Kiwi themselves make no bones about their objective:



And as Clean Energy News reports, most of the profits will go to an “unnamed investor”:

The project has used third party finance from an unnamed investor which will take the lion’s share of the FFR revenue, while Kiwi takes a fee for managing the battery and Cenin also gets a share of the project’s revenue.

  1. Mike Jackson permalink
    February 22, 2018 2:35 pm

    That figure of 666 rings a vague bell from somewhere!? Apt.

  2. Joe Public permalink
    February 22, 2018 3:18 pm

    “In other words, it can only supply its 4MW for 72 minutes, ……..”

    It’s pure speculation, but it may not even be able to do that. It depends on the finer details of the contract. A proportion of its capacity may be contracted exclusively for grid stabilisation, so therefore unavailable to time-shift power availability to some/most of those Welsh homes.

    The Tesla / Hornsdale / 100MW and 129MWh BSAB springs to mind.

    Hardly any of the MSM bothered reporting the inconvenient truth:

    “Of the 100MW/129MWh battery capacity, around 70MW of capacity is contracted to the South Australian government to provide grid stability and system security. The most likely services are frequency and ancillary services (FCAS), which address unforeseen power system events such as major system faults, generator trips or transmission failures. The battery will also be able to provide quick reactive power, for voltage support, plus smoothing of the Hornsdale wind farm’s output. This part of the battery is designed to last 10 minutes, long enough to keep the grid stable while conventional generators such as gas power plants can respond.

    The other 30MW of capacity will have three hours storage time. This portion will be used by Neoen to load-shift energy from their Hornsdale wind farm, where the battery is located. That in turn will allow them both to avoid potential curtailment enforcement and to take advantage of high peak prices in the electricity market.”

    [My bold]

    • February 22, 2018 5:04 pm

      That’s right Joe

      Under the FFS agreement with the Grid, theu have to guarantee to have power available almost instantaneously, so they can’t go supplying locals willy nilly

      • HotScot permalink
        February 22, 2018 9:18 pm

        The “FFS” agreement.

        Ffs, who agreed to a joke acronym like that!

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        February 22, 2018 9:46 pm

        HotScot – I worked for a big national telecomms company that with great fanfare, rolled out their new motivational acronym. TSIHH – those letters, can’t remember all the words – Trust, Integrity, etc. After several middle managers had rearranged the order on various whiteboards (I’ll let you guess) there was a bit of a crackdown. We were told it was ‘THIS Heart’ (yep Heart was one of the words now I think). It was even written on the back of all our passcards.

        You have to wonder…

    • Ian Magness permalink
      February 22, 2018 5:18 pm

      “it can only supply its 4MW for 72 minutes, hardly long enough to be of any use to those “thousands of Welsh homes”.
      Well, those must be pretty small homes! I have read that 1MWh is roughly equivalent to the amount of electrical energy used by about 330 average developed economy homes during one hour. So, that’s around 1,300 homes for just over an hour. Hmmmm, not even enough time to see the Welsh rugby team beaten again or, with all the waffle and adverts, only time to see half a football match, after which you can’t even make a up of tea.
      What an abysmal waste of taxpayers’ cash.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 23, 2018 1:59 am

      We do know what the contract looks like more of less: they are only required to be able to maintain full output or full charge rate for 15 minutes. Otherwise, what they do is related to grid frequency: while it remains within 50+/-0.015Hz, they are free to do as they please. Outside that band they must charge/discharge according to whether there is over/under frequency, at a rate that is proportional to the frequency deviation within +/-0.5Hz, reaching 100% of capacity at that level or beyond. There are some tolerance bands, but that ‘s the essence of it.

      What is a surprise is the sweetheart deal: £19/MW/h is almost three times the rate at which similar deals were auctioned last year – accepted bids ranged from £7/MW/h to £11.97/MW/h (multiply by 8760 hours to get annual income per MW: there are penalties for failure to perform when called on). In that auction, Kiwi Power/Cenin bid £27.08/MW/h for continuous cover for 5MW.

      I looked at the actual battery utilisation that these contracts might imply using National Grid data on frequency at one second intervals: it works out at around 3% given how the grid was operating in January 2015. So we could expect the battery to store/redeliver 3%x4x8760MWh, or a little over 1GWh per year.

  3. February 22, 2018 3:23 pm

    The cost of this facility should be paid for by the renewable industry, NOT the consumer. After all it is these renewables which are creating the problem. Just as they should be required to pay for backup generation when unable to supply.
    The fossil fuel generators should get together and force the government to come to its senses. After all they hold the technical ace card.

  4. Robert permalink
    February 22, 2018 3:38 pm

    The Greens are subsidised producing the problem , then paid again to alleviate it. Some people might call it a huge con trick.

    • February 22, 2018 5:04 pm

      The Climate Change Act is the law. That’s the no. 1 obstacle to electricity supply sanity in the UK.

  5. Roy permalink
    February 22, 2018 3:39 pm

    All this crap for a problem that really shouldn’t exist. Madness.

  6. February 22, 2018 3:57 pm

    There’s nothing green about batteries and inverters (both in the manufacture and the disposal). They also have a very short lifetime.

  7. Curious George permalink
    February 22, 2018 4:05 pm

    “£19/MW per hour.” These guys are so technically sophisticated.

    • Joe Public permalink
      February 22, 2018 6:32 pm

      They’re very precise.

      It’s their power availability.

      £19/MW per hour sounds so much less innocuous than £19 x 4 x 24 x 365 = £665,760 per annum.

      • dave permalink
        February 22, 2018 7:01 pm

        Sounds like a peculiar lawyer’s retainer, £76 an hour – for every hour of your life that I [sic, my answering service actually ] am available to give an opinion.

        Also reminds me of the old “Lawyer’s Bill”.

        “To seeing you in the town and crossing the road to say good morning, five pounds. To seeing that it was not you, and returning across the road, five pounds. Total 10 pounds.”

  8. Bitter&twisted permalink
    February 22, 2018 4:09 pm

    In my youth the word “smart” was usually followed by the word “a$re”
    Nothing has changed.

  9. February 22, 2018 4:13 pm

    FFR is a partial solution to the gird interia problem—wind and solar do not have any, while conventional generation supplies it automatically. The conventional inertia solution is called a synchronous condenser, essentially a rotating but undriven generator whose rotating mass provides additional grid inertia. A less conventional but still widely used in capacities up to a couple of MW is a statcomm, essentially power electronics supplied by a bank of supercapacitors, not batteries. Supercaps have full charge discharge cyclelives of over one million, making them far superior to batteries. Before A123 systems went bankrupt, it supplied 1 2MW LiIon FFR in the US backed by a several million DoE subsidy. Was otherwise uneconomic. I suspect bothnthis one and the one is South Australia are uneconomic also.

    • mikewaite permalink
      February 22, 2018 4:55 pm

      Ristvan , one of the features in the UK is that nothing is “uneconomic” if the taxpayer is willing to make up any shortfall in income v costs. All the evidence, from electoral response, that we have, daily reinforced by the BBC , is that the taxpayer is either enthusiastic about the “new” technologies or at least complacent about the costs to their own personal budgets .

  10. February 22, 2018 5:00 pm

    They’re going to have to buy in a lot of ‘4MW systems’ if they’re planning on ‘reducing the need for inefficient backup power stations’.

  11. mikewaite permalink
    February 22, 2018 5:03 pm

    Just looked at the BBC weather for NW england . Freezing o/night for the next 10 days – coal is already in the red zone , nuclear is nudging it and metered wind is contributing a massive 3.9GW.
    Better get that battery ready.

    • February 22, 2018 5:15 pm

      Its quite windy now, but of course all windy spells come to an end, the crunch will come if the wind ends with a clear sky, on a working day evening.

  12. Athelstan permalink
    February 22, 2018 6:09 pm

    4MW for 72 minutes

    The energy storage capacity of the station is approximately 9.1 GWh.

    back in the day, those ignorant people, I mean every new generation is far more ‘enlightened’ than their antecedants – right?

    I need to take some tablets and have a lie down – really, the idiocy brings me pain, is something making me want to scream.

    • Athelstan permalink
      February 22, 2018 6:10 pm

      antecedent even, that pressure man!

  13. Tom O permalink
    February 22, 2018 6:35 pm

    A nice thought here –

    Firm Frequency Response is a service provided by energy users to National Grid, which uses approved assets to quickly reduce demand or increase generation to help balance the grid and avoid power outages.

    I particularly like the first half of that statement, don’t you? “uses approved assets to quickly reduce demand.” Can anyone say this “service” isn’t primarily rendered by load shedding as opposed to generation? Is that what the “smart meters” are all about, shedding the home owner when the electricity starts to become unstable? I think it would be really “smart” not to have a meter that is too smart for your safety. What a lovely way to have a rolling blackout without anyone realizing that is what is happening. Clever, very clever indeed.

  14. markl permalink
    February 22, 2018 6:37 pm

    Wait for the next extended electricity failure. And it will come. How many band aids will they have to come up with to fix a problem that was solved decades ago? And at what cost to pocket book and most likely lives as well?

  15. A C Osborn permalink
    February 22, 2018 6:38 pm

    At least it isn’t a “Swansea Lagoon”!

  16. john cooknell permalink
    February 22, 2018 8:14 pm

    I have experience of large battery power systems (20MW+) for standby UPS, lots of technical problems. Concluded battery technology was a bit of a black art, difficult to predict performance before hand, and a full discharge event was usually the end of the batteries effective life. However most of the time the systems did the job of supplying power for a few minutes, till the diesels cranked in.
    National Grid must be desperate to go for this!

    • dave permalink
      February 22, 2018 8:26 pm

      If it gets a little cold…

  17. Athelstan permalink
    February 22, 2018 11:47 pm

    You forget, animations of Schulz’s characters, minor works of art – Snowman in there somewhere too.


    Also, I’ve just stumbled on another thought, how similar that, Joni and Judie sound.

  18. February 23, 2018 12:01 am

    So if I saw a similar story today AS WELL, I guess they are cropping up all over over the place, from these firms that operate STOR projects, ie brownfield sites full off container size diesel generators photo.
    The Grimsby/Scunthorpe Telegraph had a story about an VPI Immingham
    just connecting 50MW of battery

    Bit of complexity; their batterries are not in Immingham, but in Kent & Cumbria.

    But another corp IKReservePower speaks of having contract signed in 2016 for 120MW of battery power, but it’s own map system only shows it’s engines, not actually where the batteries are.

    #3 Remember Drax has planning permission for large battery storage as well

    #4 Here’s a News story from 9th Feb
    “Battery storage projects have secured 153MW of de-rated capacity market agreements from National Grid in the latest T-4 auction for 2021-22 delivery.
    The provisional results showed 24 battery sites secured payments at the clearing price of £8.40 per kilowatt a year.
    (ie if you have a 1 MW battery on permanent standby they’ll pay you £8,400/year)

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 23, 2018 2:22 am

      I thought that National Grid had severely limited the de-rated capacity of small batteries:

      Batteries that can only deliver for half an hour will be rated at around 20% of their maximum output, while assets that can discharge for four hours will receive the same de-rating factor as pumped hydro at 95%.

  19. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 23, 2018 10:23 am

    Here’s the activity of the Big South Australian Battery in the second half of January, when there were periods of very high demand because of hot weather, and not much wind generation, leading to heavy imports (at times constrained) on the Heywood interconnector to largely coal fired Victoria:

    The trivial nature of the battery’s effort is immediately evident. It should be noted that the battery spent almost the entire time constrained to a maximum of +/-30MW of charge/discharge.

    Here’s its activity in the second half of December set alongside the output from the Hornsdale wind farm that it is supposed to support:

    Certainly no evidence of it smoothing the output, with lots of spiky interventions. Once again, it looks puny alongside the 315MW wind farm output when the wind is blowing favourably – and completely unable to make up for it when it isn’t.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      February 25, 2018 7:51 pm

      Hard to tell from the graphs, which clearly show how little the much-vaunted batteries provide, but it looks as though the round-trip efficiency of the batteries is much lower that claimed?

  20. Gerry, England permalink
    February 23, 2018 1:41 pm

    Could the coming freeze be the first test of our limited generating capacity? With it being all across Europe I suspect that there won’t be anything spare to send us via the interconnectors. Winds dropping away and frost on the solar panels, heating use being extended as the days stay close to freezing.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: