The STEPS program by Faraday Institution and Cambridge Cleantech enable the collaboration of three SMEs at the Harwell Science & Innovation Campus in the UK. AMTE Power, Brill Power, and Starke Energy are joining forces to demonstrate new energy storage product innovations at a commercial-scale testbed, bringing their solutions one stage closer to market.
Three new technologies related to batteries energy storage systems will be integrated with the Science and Engineering Facilities Council’s (STFC) solar array at the South Car Park at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. The testbed will demonstrate AMTE’s sodium-ion battery module using Brill Power’s battery intelligence technology and Stark Energy’s energy management system, which links stored energy into the electricity grid and markets. This is the first time that these technologies are being deployed in a commercially relevant project.
Energy storage installations around the world are expected to reach a cumulative 1,028GWh by the end of 2030, twenty times larger than seen in 2021. In the UK, energy storage projects (including but not just batteries) that have planning approved will reach a cumulative 10.5GW capacity.
This boom in the energy storage market is critical to support the growing demand for renewable solar and wind-led energy. The use of energy storage will reduce peak power loads on the grid, which will be increasingly important as more electric vehicles are used. There is a need for large-scale investment within the energy storage market and small scale, but commercially relevant tests such as this one at Harwell will help European SMEs access this sizeable market.
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The energy storage system at Harwell is expected to be in operation from March 2022 and will run for a minimum of 12 months.
As a benchmark, in the project’s first phase AMTE Power will deploy lithium-ion cells before switching to use the company’s Ultra Safe sodium-ion cell technology in the second demonstration phase of the project.
Sodium-ion batteries offer an alternative to lithium-ion in those markets where cost is more important than weight or performance: particularly energy storage, network resilience, and energy in remote locations. Improvements in the competitiveness of energy storage technologies will accelerate the uptake of small-scale renewable sources of electricity generation.
The commercialization of sodium-ion technology lags behind Li-ion but offers significant advantages that make it suited as a solution for static energy storage applications; it uses earth-abundant elements, has long cycle life and intrinsic safety advantages.
Brill Power’s battery intelligence technology will be deployed to ensure optimal battery usage, lifetime, performance, and safety. Real-world data and operating parameters will be collected, which will support further optimization of the technologies deployed in the demonstrator. Brill Power launched its first battery management system (BMS) product in 2021, which is supported by its proprietary battery monitoring and analytics software platform.
Starke Energy’s energy management system will integrate the battery system with the local energy network at Harwell. The system, using artificial intelligence, learns how much energy is being produced by renewable sources, and how much is being used to optimize the storage and release of energy across a network of connected intelligent batteries.
The project is part of the Interreg North-West Europe STEPS program that is supporting 40 businesses through, in its first phase, a competitive product enhancement voucher program – valued at €12.5k each. AMTE, Brill, and Starke were all awarded first phase vouchers in March 2021 and each has benefited from expert support provided by UK STEPS business partner, Cambridge Cleantech, and knowledge partner, the Faraday Institution. This has included tailored testing, introductions to potential end-users, and market knowledge to strengthen the competitiveness of their products.
As part of the second phase of STEPS, the collaborating partners have been awarded €50k to contribute to the costs of installation of their prototype technology at the Harwell testbed. This is one of 20 testbeds being developed throughout North-West Europe by a variety of SMEs, including a second in the UK at Allia’s Future Business Centre in Cambridge, which will use a battery system from Aceleron, another UK-based SME involved in the STEPS program.
Professor Pam Thomas, CEO, Faraday Institution commented, “We are excited to be working with the North-West Europe STEPS program to enable SMEs to demonstrate their latest energy storage technologies in a commercially-relevant setting. This is another example of the Faraday Institution acting as convener for partnerships between UK industry, academia and funding organizations as a route to commercialize breakthrough science and engineering to maximize economic value.”
Sam Goodall, Head of International Projects, Cambridge Cleantech added, “The three UK SMEs who are part of this program have technologies that can revolutionize the energy storage sector, from AMTE’s Na-ion batteries which remove the need for mineral extraction, Brill Power who make batteries last longer and be more efficient, and Starke’s energy management system which helps optimize the use of the energy and how it is sold together based on AI and IoT. The STEPS Business Support program can help these SMEs accelerate market readiness and Cambridge Cleantech is proud to be associated with it.”
In the cover picture: The Harwell Science & Innovation Campus, UK. Photo Credit Faraday Institution.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com