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A123 Sells a 'Six-Pack' of Li-ion Battery Systems to UK's Northern Powergrid

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February 14, 2012

A123 Sells a 'Six-Pack' of Li-ion Battery Systems to UK's Northern Powergrid

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor


Today’s smart grid gives the term “balance of power” a new definition. To manage peak demand and power fluctuations in our plug-and-play society, utilities and regulators are looking at leading-edge technologies that can help supplement electric service while keeping customer costs steady.

Now, Waltham, Massachusetts-based A123 Systems, a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate lithium ion batteries and systems, has announced that it will supply six Grid Battery Systems (GBSs) to Northern Powergrid, an electricity distribution network operator based in Houghton-le-Spring, England, that delivers power to more than 3.8 million U.K. customers.

The Grid Battery Systems will be designed for peak-load shifting and to manage fluctuations in voltage on the U.K.'s power grid. Expected to be operational by the end of 2012, the systems will be deployed as part of the Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR), the United Kingdom's largest smart grid project,  funded through the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets' (Ofgem) Low Carbon Networks Fund.

About 14,000 homes and businesses in England’s North East and Yorkshire are participating in the £54 million (US$85 million) CLNR project, which is dedicated to finding ways for customers to reduce both their energy costs and carbon emissions in the years to come.

"The CLNR will evaluate a number of innovative network technologies, to accommodate increasing quantities of low-carbon loads and renewable generation necessary to meet the U.K.'s climate change goals. One aspect of this multifaceted project is to determine how the use of storage technology may reduce peak loading on our network and, thereby, offset the need for network reinforcement," said Jim Cardwell, head of Regulation and Strategy at Northern Powergrid, adding, "A123's battery energy storage systems will showcase how such technology can be part of the U.K.'s low-carbon future."

A123's GBS storage systems, which include the Smart Grid Domain Controller, will be used to regulate voltage, enabling Northerngrid to maintain grid stability and power quality as more clean energy sources are integrated. The GBS units for Northern Powergrid will include one 2.5-megawatt system, two 100-kilowatt systems, and three 50 kilowatt systems. They each will be designed to maintain power for two hours, which will add flexibility to the distribution network and help deliver consistently reliable power to customers.

"Grid operators around the world are faced with a variety of technical hurdles when trying to add significant renewable capacity. In the UK, distribution networks often have limitations that make adding high concentrations of wind and solar difficult," explained Robert Johnson, vice president of A123's Energy Solutions Group. "Battery energy storage can overcome these challenges by efficiently managing the voltage levels of the power network—and we look forward to working with Northern Powergrid on the CLNR smart grid project, which we view as an excellent opportunity to showcase the versatility and performance of our GBS solutions."

Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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