UK battery maker starts virtual power plant trial

January 25, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
A UK developer of lithium iron batteries is starting trials on a virtual power plant to manage electricity stored in home systems.

London-based Moixa Smart Batteries is working with electricity distributor Northern Powergrid to install battery systems in 40 homes around Barnsley with solar panels to connect them up into a virtual power plant. Some areas have a problem of too much power being exported from solar panels at peak times, and the virtual plant manages power from multiple battery systems to reduce the overall load.

"By managing clusters of home batteries in a virtual power plant and allowing homeowners to use more of their solar energy, we believe we can significantly reduce peak solar generation output onto the network," said Simon Daniel, CEO of Moixa,which sees itself as a UK version of US battery and car maker Tesla. This will allow more homes to go solar without imposing new costs on network operators. Solar homes with batteries can halve their electricity bills, and this solution will become increasingly popular as costs of storage and PV fall. We are working closely with Northern Powergrid and this project will deliver insights to develop incentives which we hope will allow us to roll out solar plus storage to tens of thousands of homes in their region, by creating a business case for homeowners to invest and also by increasing the number of solar connections allowed on each substation.”

The £250,000 trial will seek to demonstrate that the virtual power plant can reduce peak solar output onto the network sufficiently to enable panels to be installed on more homes using existing substations and cable networks. If successful, Northern Powergrid believes UK network operators could save millions for customers by reducing the need to upgrade infrastructure. The trial will also feed into national design guidance for low voltage networks supplying housing estates.

Moxia supplies 2kWh and 3kWh LiFePO 4 battery packs for two bedroom and three bedroom houses respectively that combine the inverter and control electronics, linked by WiFi and Zigbee protocols. The battery packs take 5A inputs