Establishing electric vehicles as the main component of private transport is a deep and broad challenge. The vehicles themselves must offer range that will quell fears of being caught without charge in an chargepoint black spot, those chargepoints must be established either through government schemes or private enterprise, and EVs must be available at prices that rival those of their combustion engine-encumbered brethren.
Perhaps the most significant infrastructural challenge, however, is the grid’s ability to cope with the strain of widespread EV ownership. Statista says that, as recently as January 2020, there are around 32.5 million cars on British roads; if each of these were to be replaced by EVs overnight, the grid would collapse during their overnight charges (not accounting for the proportion of road-borne vehicles that are already plug-in hybrids or straight-shooting EVs, of course).
With the UK set to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2035, the race is on to douse this fire before it starts.
Many options for curtailing the potential electricity shortages pertaining to electrified transport are being fielded, including using EVs as mobile batteries themselves so they can restore energy to the system as they take it out and thereby balance the effect.
More practically, installing large batteries in the grid network will enable a balancing of power supply by feeding the system during peak periods and absorbing excess energy when supply exceeds demand.
Limejump is an enterprise seeking to deliver on this option, and its nascent project for British soil has received multi-year backing from Big Oil member and parent company Shell. Limejump already manages the largest battery portfolio in the UK, and the freshly-backed 100MW project will add the biggest battery in Europe to its remit.
The 100MW project, comprised of two 50MW batteries and due for completion by the end of this year, is also backed by China Huaneng Group and sovereign wealth fund CNIC, and will be based in southwest England.
“Projects like this will be vital for balancing the UK’s electricity demand and supply as wind and solar power play bigger roles in powering our lives,” said David Wells, Vice President of SEEL (Shell Energy Europe Ltd), in Limejump’s press release. “Batteries are uniquely suited to optimising power supplies as the UK moves towards net-zero carbon system.”