This monumental achievement will be the foundation for a future where we look towards the Net Zero transition, ensuring the future security of the UK’s energy supply and reducing reliance on foreign gas imports and expensive energy bills.
But how did we get there?
As the world grapples with the ongoing challenge of transitioning to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, we identified in 2016 that battery energy storage systems (BESS) would be a critical player in the clean energy transition. These systems not only provide grid stability but also enable the efficient integration of renewable energy sources.
With a vision to focus on 2-hour duration batteries and the desire to power a sustainable future for everyone, the success of summer 2023 was the culmination of precise planning and preparation, strong partnerships and joint ventures, including TagEnergy, FRV, Tesla, Wilson Power Solutions, and the hard work of every Harmony Energy team member, from the CEO and Directors providing the vision to reach what once seemed impossible, to all staff members who make the Harmony Energy wheel turn.
Speaking of Harmony’s summer of success, Director of Operations, Alex Thornton, said: “It’s a phenomenal achievement to safely build and energise so many projects in such a short space of time.
“It was really special to be part of such a huge team effort across the whole company – plus hundreds and hundreds of external partners – all of which came together in perfect harmony to make this happen over the summer.”
What BESS sites went live?
In a summer to remember, we were delighted to welcome the Bumpers, Little Raith, Chapel Farm, Farnham and Clay Tye BESS sites to the Harmony Energy and Harmony Energy Income Trust (HEIT) operational portfolios. Each site had its own successes, challenges, complexities and milestones, and through vision, expertise and persistence, here is a little bit of information on the five BESS sites that went live and how expertise and hard work helped deliver these goals:
Bumpers: Europe’s joint largest operational BESS
The energisation of the 99MW / 198MWh Buckinghamshire-based BESS, resulted in HEIT owning two of the top three largest operational BESS assets in Europe (by MWh), and Harmony Energy having developed the top three BESS sites in Europe following the recent successful energisation of Clay Tye and the multi-award winning Pillswood BESS in November 2022.
Like many of our sites, Bumpers utilises 2-hour duration Tesla Megapack technology, and is operated through Autobidder.
But a site the size of Bumpers came with unavoidable challenges. From global supply-chain issues, DNO resource constraints, flash floods and even a heatwave (in the same month!), the complexities of every BESS site is huge, and thanks to our key partners and in-house expertise, we were able to overcome these and deliver the project ahead of schedule.
Ked Shayer, Head of Engineering, said:
“We aspire to lead the way toward a greener and more sustainable future. The successful energisation of the Bumpers project represents a significant stride toward achieving Net Zero and building out our entire portfolio.
“The way that the project team pulled together to complete Europe’s largest BESS in a record time is a truly remarkable accomplishment.”
You can learn more about Bumpers in our feature with Bloomberg.
Little Raith: The impossible made possible
The 50MW / 100MWh Little Raith BESS was a landmark moment for Harmony Energy and site owners HEIT, as it was our first operational site to be commissioned in Scotland.
Logistically, construction raised the biggest challenge with the site sitting alongside a steep hill and quarry pit, and four 33kV overhead lines crisscrossing through the planned area where the only way in was via a winding single-track lane. It was deemed by many as impossible to build.
These challenges became opportunities through strong project management, vital communication between key stakeholders, the implementation of a metered connection inside SPEN’s substation for the first time ever, unlocking numerous time-critical land legal agreements, and everyone at the site successfully pulling the strings each day.
Gary Murray, Project Manager for Little Raith, said: Our achievement at Little Raith stands as a testament to what can be accomplished when expertise, determination, and teamwork come together to turn challenges into opportunities. We proved that with the right strategy, there’s no such thing as impossible.”
Chapel Farm: A joint venture with TagEnergy
Developed in joint venture with global clean energy enterprise, TagEnergy, the energisation of the 49.5MW / 99MWh Chapel Farm BESS in Luton, was a great achievement for all involved since Harmony found to site in 2016.
After months of construction and planning, and before the celebrations at a fantastic launch event, the big moment arrived with an intense period of testing between UKPN and Tesla’s commissioning engineers with both teams working until midnight on the penultimate day of energisation. All key stakeholders were back on site early the next morning with another full day of testing and final checks before UKPN energised the incomer circuit breaker.
Peter Kavanagh, Harmony Energy’s CEO, said: “The completion and energisation of the Chapel Farm scheme is another significant milestone for us especially as it is the first joint venture project we have delivered with TagEnergy who have been a great partner.
Farnham: The first energisation of summer 2023
The 20MW / 40MWh Farnham site based in Surrey was our first BESS to energise in summer 2023. The tight constraints on when DNO connection work could happen, meant the main challenge was to coordinate partners and plans to ensure the site energised as soon as possible.
Farnham was the frontrunner in our 2023 journey, and due to the in-house expertise at our disposal, we managed to work to tight deadlines and successfully energised during a small energisation and G99 commissioning window.
Head of Asset Management, Jamie Vernon said: “Farnham was the catalyst to starting our summer of BESS energisations on the right foot. We knew every deadline was going to be tight, and it was thanks to our team and partners that we managed to deliver these large goals during restricted opportunities.”
Clay Tye: A joint venture with FRV
Sharing its title alongside Bumpers – Europe’s joint largest operational BESS (by MWh) – the Essex-based 99MW / 198MWh Clay Tye BESS facility was another game-changer for the UK’s energy landscape.
Clay Tye was seen as the perfect site to develop due to a connection of 132kV immediately adjacent to a massive DNO substation. But every site raises external challenges, and the global supply chain issues that had affected the industry and nation as a whole, came into play to cause delays and planning issues.
However, through the combination of expertise, precise planning and key partners, Clay Tye officially joined the operational portfolio of BESS sites after it was energised on a sunny morning in August.
Peter Kavanagh, CEO of Harmony Energy, said: “This is another important milestone in our continued growth and we are delighted to be working with FRV once again. Clay Tye has taken six years to reach this stage.
“It is one of the largest projects of its kind in the UK and will contribute to future energy security, while supporting the decarbonisation of the grid”.
Goodbye to summer 2023
Harmony Energy’s successful summer of energisation was the culmination of joint ventures, key partners and an in-house team that goes above and beyond in powering a sustainable future.
The more BESS sites we energise, the more we can ensure we are leaving the world in a better place than when we found it.
Interested in learning more? Keep an eye out on our social channels for our upcoming ‘Powering a sustainable future’ blog pieces where you’ll learn more about renewable energy, Harmony Energy and HEIT, and so much more.