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Flow battery shipped to Scottish island

UK: British energy storage firm Redt is shipping its flow battery system to the remote island of Gigha off Scotland's west coast, following successful testing on the mainland, in Cumbernauld.

Gigha community wind project comprises three Vestas and one Enercon turbine
Gigha community wind project comprises three Vestas and one Enercon turbine

The 1.68MWh energy storage system, will enable Gigha's island community to generate electricity from a fourth 330kW turbine without applying a constraint on the voltage. Currently the Enercon-made turbine is limited to 225kW.

Gigha's three original Vestas V27 turbines, with a combined capacity of 675kW, comprise one of Scotland's first community wind farms.

Redt will start shipping to Gigha over the next month. The island is connected to the mainland via an 11kV cable, one of the longest overhead lines in Scotland.

The firm declined to say when the battery system is expected to be operational by, but usually commissioning of large stationary batteries can take several weeks to complete.

Without expensive grid expansion works, such as an additional cable linking Gigha to the mainland, the island's renewable energy capacity is constrained. The community plans to add solar photovoltaics and tidal stream generators in future.

Redt's flow battery storage system consists of modular 15kW/240kWh tanks of vanadium redox flow electrolytes housed within seven 20-foot shipping containers, with an eighth housing the power control system.

The flow battery system will allow for an increase of at least 20% in wind energy generation, enabling the community to generate additional income from selling wind energy to the market at times of high demand and higher prices.

Flow battery chemistry is well-suited to storing energy over periods of several hours so the technology is ideal for balancing variable energy generation from renewable energy resources like wind for time-shifting.

The project will run for two-and-a-half years and received funding from the UK's energy department, prior to the new government's reorganisation in July. It aims to demonstrate a utility-scale battery system in a demanding application and support the commercial scale-up and production of flow batteries.

Once the batteries are operational the next stage of the project is to add 'islanding' functionality that will allow Gigha to use its renewable-generated energy when the main power line is down.

Vanadium redox flow batteries have longer operational lifetimes than other types of battery technology, in the region of 20-30 years. They are relatively straightforward to maintain, requiring replacement of pumps, the firm said.

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