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Giant Tesla batteries to store green power in Dorset

Ed Clowes
Tesla's Megapack batteries - AFP/Getty Images/NEOEN

Tesla has equipped a new energy storage plant in Dorset, capable of powering 17,000 homes, in the firm's first major foray into the British power industry.

The car maker is supplying its Megapack high-capacity batteries, and Autobidder control software, to UK business Harmony Energy and Spanish company FRV for a site in Poole which will store electricity generated by wind farms and release it to the grid when needed.

It is the first time either technology has been used in the UK, industry sources say. Tesla declined to comment.

Tesla earlier this year took its first step towards becoming an energy provider in Britain by quietly applying to regulator Ofgem for a licence to generate electricity.

The application did not make clear why Tesla had applied for the licence. Now, a clearer picture is beginning to emerge around the company’s intentions.

Tesla’s systems – connected to the Southern Electric Power distribution network – will form the backbone of Harmony’s battery storage site in Poole, and represents the company’s opening salvo in the UK’s battle for supremacy in new, low carbon technologies.

Tesla's Gigafactories

The California-based company’s lithium-ion batteries will provide a combined capacity of 15 megawatts (MW) to Dorset and its surrounding areas, storing energy and providing flexibility to the grid.

Experts predict that such large-scale batteries will be essential in the future to manage power demand as fossil fuels are phased out.

Having built a significant battery business in recent years, Tesla was earlier this year described by industry sources as preparing to enter the British market with its technology.

In Australia, the company designed the largest lithium-ion power storage facility in the world, capable of storing enough energy to run 30,000 homes.

Peter Kavanagh, boss of Harmony Energy, said: “Utility-scale battery energy storage is critical to the future of the UK’s energy supply, often seen as the missing link in the UK’s renewable energy strategy, both in terms of controlling grid frequency and providing backup during periods of peak demand and supply.”

Harmony hopes to build several more battery energy storage plants in the UK over the next few years, and is ready to start work on 500MW of capacity across a number of projects. The biggest of these sites is 99MW.

“We’re delighted to have worked closely with FRV and Tesla to complete this project, which is the first in our pipeline of battery energy storage plant to be built in the UK.”