London-based Pivot Power has unveiled plans to build a world-first 2GW network of grid-scale batteries and rapid electric vehicle charging stations across the UK.
The £1.6 billion ($2.1 billion) program will provide infrastructure to support the adoption of EVs while introducing flexibility into the energy system to accommodate the demands of mass charging and higher levels of intermittent renewable generation.
Pivot Power plans to develop 45 sites around the country, installing grid-scale 50MW batteries at electricity sub-stations connected directly to the extra-high-voltage transmission system. These will give the electricity system operator National Grid a huge resource in managing supply and demand.
According to the company, the battery network will be the world’s biggest, storing enough electricity to supply 235,000 average homes for a day.
Sites have been chosen near towns and major roads where they can also power rapid EV charging stations. These will be fed directly by the transmission system, and so will be able to offer mass charging at competitive rates, supporting up to 100 rapid 150KW chargers. They will also be able to support rapid 350KW chargers when they are available in the UK.
When completed, it will be the world’s largest network of rapid charging stations, addressing the three biggest barriers to EV adoption identified by the Department for Transport: availability of chargers, distance travelled on a charge, and cost. By offering affordable charging it will also lower the costs of car ownership for the next generation, the third biggest barrier.
Pivot Power aims to have operational batteries at 10 sites within 18 months. Each will provide a hub able to support a variety of infrastructure such as public rapid charging stations, electric bus depots and bases for large transport fleets. A site on the south coast could be operational by the middle of 2019, subject to planning approval.
The company has financial backing from Downing LLP, a UK-based investment manager which has funded over 100 deals into renewable energy investments since 2010. Downing has provided financial support for the initial phase of the project and plans to provide further funding as the rollout of rapid charging stations progresses.
Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, an advisor and investor in Pivot Power, said, “Renewables, batteries and electric vehicles are going to completely transform our power system, not just because they help clean up our horrible air quality and meet our climate targets, but because their costs are falling far faster than people realize. Pivot Power were quick to understand the scale and nature of the opportunity and have positioned themselves brilliantly.”
The core of Pivot Power’s strategy is connecting batteries and rapid charging stations directly to the extra-high-voltage transmission system. This will give it a competitive advantage over existing batteries and charging stations linked to the lower voltage regional distribution system.
Combining batteries with EV charging maximizes the value from each grid connection, and economies of scale should drive down building and operating costs.
Each site offers a range of revenue streams. The batteries will earn money from providing a range of services to National Grid, from sales of electricity to chargers, and from energy trading. They could also potentially provide services to energy-intensive industries. Rapid charging stations will earn income from EV drivers.