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Insights and Stories

Supporting the UK's Transition to Renewables

July 18, 2023

Sembcorp Energy UK’s flexible gas-fired generation plants
Sembcorp Energy UK’s flexible gas-fired generation plants

In August 2019, over one million people in the UK were left without electricity for up to 45 minutes, after a lightning strike caused two large generators that power the national grid to trip which led to a plunge in grid frequency. Within minutes of the blackout, Sembcorp Energy UK’s fleet of rapid response gas-fired power plants swung into action to make over 600MW of electricity available, which supported the restoration of power to the grid.

Sembcorp Energy UK’s battery energy storage system

We operate the UK’s largest distributed energy portfolio that comprises 813MW of small-scale, fast-ramping power generation assets and rapid response batteries which are either in operation or under construction. In 2019, the first 60MW of our battery energy storage system commenced operations in the UK. These are used by the national grid electricity system operator to dynamically manage the system in real-time. Our batteries function like the cruise control in a car, automatically increasing or decreasing their output to ensure that the system frequency remains consistently within safe limits, thus reducing the risk of a power cut.

With the growth of renewables in the UK’s energy mix, flexible rapid response gas engines and battery energy storage systems will play increasingly important roles to help address the intermittency of renewables by bridging supply gaps and ensuring the reliability of power supply.