Shipping container-sized battery helping to power Mildenhall Hub

A battery the size of a shipping container made from recycled electric vehicle batteries, is among the green features that will help power the Mildenhall Hub with renewable energy.

A new school, leisure facilities including new pools, a health centre, advice centre, library and office space for public sector partners will all come together in the hub, which will open in 2021.

Jo Rayner, West Suffolk Cabinet Member for Community Hub, said: “The purpose of the hub is to bring together services so they are close to the town centre, accessible and working together for the benefit of the residents in and around Mildenhall. That includes replacing old, outdated and inefficient buildings with modern facilities shaped to residents needs both now and into the future.”

That future includes greener, cleaner energy with the hub design making the most of its environmental features.

Heating a swimming pool uses a lot of energy. But a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) offers the solution. By pumping water down into the ground where it will naturally warm, and then using this heated water pumped back into the pools, significant greenhouse gases and money savings will be made.

A Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit combines a boiler and electricity generator into one. It generates electricity while heat created as a by-product will be used for the hot water for the rest of the hub building as well as heating the pool air and toward heating the overall building.

The Mildenhall Hub will also benefit from around 600 solar panels generating electricity during daylight hours, while a large 300kW battery called an E-STOR, made using 24 second-life Renault Kangoo electric vehicle batteries, offers the chance to store any excess energy generated by the panels and CHP. It can then switch to that onsite generated renewable energy at peak times, saving costs in the process.

Collectively the greenhouse gas emissions savings 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.

West Suffolk Council has also switched energy provider to Ecotricity, meaning that when not using the electricity generated on-site, Mildenhall Hub will still benefit from using 100% renewable electricity.

John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “Addressing greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and our impact on the environment continues to be a key part of our work at West Suffolk Council. The Hub itself, as well as bringing together services for Mildenhall and beyond, will of course be more energy efficient than the buildings that it will replace. By incorporating and investing in these environmental technologies we are further reducing the environmental impact of the Hub. It will also save the Hub partners money on their running costs which will make services more resilient to some of the challenges that we may all face over the years ahead.”

The energy storage unit is being installed by second-life battery pioneer Connected Energy. Electric vehicle batteries last for seven to 10 years in a car before they need to be replaced. Working with the battery manufacturer, in this case Renault, the firm tests the batteries before considering them for a second-life application. Connected Energy monitors the efficiency of each battery and individual ones can be replaced as and when required.

Connected Energy’s British designed and circular economy focused technology reuses the battery packs to create second-life battery energy storage solutions for energy intensive users.

“We maximise the value of already committed natural resources before they are later recycled,” said Matthew Lumsden, Connected Energy CEO. “Our approach to extracting additional value from the finite resources embedded in electric vehicle batteries, and essentially doubling their working lives, is what makes us different to other energy storage providers.

“We already have systems optimising the relationship between EV charging loads and PV generation,” added Connected Energy Project Manager, Nigel Dent.

“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.”

For more on Connected Energy visit www.c-e-.int.com

Pictured above is Connected Energy chief executive Matthew Lumsden.

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