A £4m lithium titanate battery facility has been launched at the Willenhall substation near Wolverhampton, UK, as part of a research to tackle the challenges of industrial-scale energy storage.

Claimed to be the fastest and one of the largest of its kind in the UK, the battery-based energy storage facility is owned and operated by University of Sheffield, along with partners at Aston University and the University of Southampton.

The research project is intended to test the technological and economic challenges of using large scale batteries in a bid to provide grid support.

The University of Sheffield Willenhall facility and the centre for electrical energy storage director David Stone said: "The first commercial projects are coming on line, but there are still many technical issues to be explored in order to maximize the potential of these technologies and to reduce costs."

E.ON and Uniper will use the 2MW facility, which was developed by Toshiba, to help develop their understanding of operating a lithium titanate battery, test storage technology and provide ancillary services to the electricity network.

Uniper innovation economics head Arne Hauner said: "The reason for doing this is to test the operation of a battery in a new market and to gain operational experience of a different battery storage technology compared to those which we currently operate."

According to a report by the National Infrastructure Commission, the energy storage is expected contribute to innovations that could save consumers £8bn annually by 2030 as well as securing the UK’s energy supply.

Stone added that the new national research facility is expected to offer enhanced frequency response to peaks in demand. It will also be used by other academic and industrial projects for their research and to test new technologies.

The battery will be a part of a new 11kV Grid Connected Energy Storage Research Demonstrator, which is located at the Willenhall primary substation.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the demonstrator will also assess the viability of used electric vehicle battery packs for domestic or industrial electricity storage.