Pivot Power has announced plans to build a £25 million grid-scale battery and an electric vehicle (EV) charging superhub on the edge of Southampton.
It has chosen the city for the first of 45 sites across the UK that will combine 50MW batteries with rapid charging stations. The development will put Southampton at the forefront of the smart energy revolution, creating infrastructure that will make it easier for drivers to switch to EVs and that will support action to clean up the city’s air.
Test Valley Borough Council has given the company permission to install a 50MW battery at Nursling electricity sub-station at a cost of up to £25m, which it expects to be operational by July 2019. It will be one of the UK’s biggest, storing enough electricity to supply nearly 6,000 average homes for a day from a single charge. The country currently has just 300MW of grid-scale battery storage.
The site at Station Road is close to Junction 3 of the M27, and the company intends to submit a separate planning application for an EV charging superhub at another site in the area. The superhub will offer rapid charging at competitive rates for up to 100 cars at the same time and will be capable of supporting the fastest chargers. It will also be able to support mass charging infrastructure for commercial fleets such as electric buses, taxis and vans, and Pivot Power will engage with the council and local companies to explore these opportunities.
Matthew Boulton, chief operating officer of Pivot Power, said: “We want to support councils working to clean up air pollution, promote low-carbon policies and develop a sustainable economy with better services for local people. Close collaboration will ensure that we build the right infrastructure in the right place to make it easy for drivers, businesses and public services to switch to electric vehicles.”
Pivot Power will build the battery on a 1.6-acre plot on National Grid land and inside its secure perimeter. It will be housed in 25 containers, surrounded and concealed by a security fence and a 3-metre high wooden fence. The site is next to the substation and screened by mature trees and hedgerows on the other three sides. Construction is expected to start around March 2019 and take three months.
Pivot Power is in the process of identifying a site for an EV charging superhub, which will share the same grid connection as the battery. This will be the subject of a separate planning application.
Southampton will be the first site to be developed in a £1.6 billion programme that will set up a national network of batteries and EV charging superhubs fed directly by National Grid sub-stations. Pivot Power aims to have operational 50MW batteries at 10 sites within 18 months and 45 within five years.
The 2GW battery network will help National Grid manage supply and demand and accommodate the demands of mass EV charging and higher levels of renewable generation. It will introduce valuable flexibility into the energy system, releasing or absorbing power in response to grid balancing requirements.
Pivot Power has chosen sites near towns and major roads where the batteries can support its plans to develop the world’s biggest network of rapid EV charging stations. These will support EV adoption by addressing the three biggest barriers identified by the Department for Transport: availability of chargers, distance travelled on a charge, and cost.
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.
- It will be able to buy power at lower cost and it is committed to keeping prices as low as possible for drivers.
- Its rapid charging stations will have access to abundant power – each will have a 20MW connection, enough to supply a town of 10,000 homes.
- Combining batteries with EV charging maximises the value from each grid connection, and economies of scale should drive down building and operating costs.
Pivot Power has financial backing from Downing LLP, a UK-based investment manager which has funded over 100 deals into renewable energy investments since 2010 totalling more than £500 million. Pivot Power is already in talks with institutional and strategic investors, and potential partners, such as car manufacturers, charging providers, and technology and energy companies.
 Public attitudes towards electric vehicles: 2016 (revised), Department for Transport