Isentropic and Western Power to Test Pumped Heat Electricity Storage

I missed the announcement at the time, but what with one thing and another I’ve recently been doing my due diligence on innovative methods of storing energy in and around 33 kV substations.  I’ve just discovered that last week Isentropic Ltd.revealed that:

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has provided project funding and an equity investment, together totalling £14m ($22m). The funding is to build a full scale demonstrator of its revolutionary, low cost energy storage device – called Pumped Heat Electricity Storage (PHES).

All that money is going to be put to some practical use, since:

Isentropic will use the funds to develop and deploy a 1.5MW/6MWh electricity storage unit on a UK primary substation owned by Western Power Distribution in the Midlands region.

This news was obviously of great interest to me, so I called Isentropic and spoke with their Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Howes earlier today. Unfortunately in all the circumstances, Jonathan told me that whilst a scaled validation system will be up and running in the not too distant future, a utility scale machine capable of delivering 1.5 MW of power and 6 MWh of storage in the field at an overall efficiency of 75% is still several years from fruition.

As UK Business Secretary Vince Cable puts it:

As our energy supplies change, finding innovative ways to store energy will become an increasingly important factor in the transition to a green economy.

and as Western Power Distribution Project Engineer Philip Bale puts it:

We believe that distribution scale energy storage could be used to improve the future operation of the distribution network

Hear, hear!

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