March 15, 2021

Huge battery installed as opening of new public service hub moves closer

A battery the size of a shipping container has been installed at a new multi-million pound public services hub in west Suffolk ahead of its opening in May.

The Mildenhall Hub, which brings a new school, leisure facilities including new pools, a health centre, library and office space together on one site, will open to the community in a rolling programme from May 24 – subject to final testing and government restrictions easing as expected.

The purpose-built battery, which was delivered earlier this month, will store renewable energy generated by solar panels and energy generated by a combined heat and power unit. Connected Energy, the firm behind the storage battery called an E-STOR, built it from 24 recycled electric vehicle batteries. The Renault Kangoo electric vehicle batteries last seven to 10 years in a car before they need to be replaced.

Working with Renault, Connected Energy tests the batteries before considering them for a second-life application and monitors the efficiency of each battery so individual ones can be replaced as and when required.

West Suffolk Council says collectively the greenhouse gas emissions savings from the technologies being installed will amount to 200 tonnes in 2021 and 2,300 tonnes over the 20-year lifetime for the plant – the equivalent of taking 820 cars off of the road.

Jo Rayner, cabinet member for community hubs at West Suffolk Council, said: “The hub is the future – better education and leisure facilities, better access and better partnership work between services for the benefit of residents. It’s replacing old, outdated buildings with modern more energy efficient facilities shaped to residents’ needs both now and for many decades to come. That future needs to continue to address greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and our impact on the environment which is a key part of our work at West Suffolk Council. These low carbon technologies will further reduce the environmental impact of the hub as well as saving the hub partners money on their running costs, making services more resilient to some of the financial challenges that we may all face over the years ahead.”

Matthew Lumsden, Connected Energy chief executive officer, said: “We maximise the value of natural resources already embedded in the batteries before they are later recycled. Our approach to optimising the value of existing batteries, thereby reducing the environmental impact, is what makes us different to other energy storage providers.”

Nigel Dent, Connected Energy project manager, said: “We already have systems optimising the relationship between EV charging loads and PV generation. The Mildenhall Hub system is particularly exciting because of the wider mix of technologies including CHP and ground source heat. By optimising the fit between generation and load we should be able to further decarbonise the ground source heat for example.”