A TEESSIDE-based company is aiming to tackle any upcoming national energy shortages – and the threat of blackouts– with a new venture.

With coal-fired power stations going offline by 2025 and a new generation of nuclear power generators not expected to be producing energy for another 20 years, Sembcorp UK is building 'battery storage operations' at three sites, with more expected to follow.

The facilities can add power to the National Grid at very short notice in times of high demand and are expected to help combat widespread blackouts such as the one on August 9 this year.

The firm has begun battery storage operations at three sites – two in Cheshire and one in Leicestershire – which will add an additional 60 megawatts of electricity generating capacity to the grid – enough to power around 170,000 households.

In May 2018 the Singapore-based Sembcorp Industries group expanded its UK operation through the £216 million purchase of a Solihull-based business called UK Power Reserve.

It did so in order to get a foothold in the fastest-growing sector of the UK energy market – the distributed energy generation, or the ability to get electricity into the grid from small scale, fast responding power units.

UKPR owned around 40 such sites, mainly comprising small gas turbine type units, in various parts of England and Wales.

In effect they – along with other rapid response units operated by other companies - swing into action when the grid indicates it needs additional power – for example on cold, still winter nights when there is no wind or solar power available.

Two years before the buy-out UKPR had taken the decision to move into battery storage, and with the financial backing when it was taken over by Sembcorp, it has now seen through the construction of the first battery storage developments, essentially adding to the nation's energy security.

During the power blackout in August, the UK called upon 475megawatts of power from battery storage units to rebalance the national power system.


Sembcorp’s overall UK power generating capacity is now 973MW, of which some 220megawatts is on Teesside serving major industrial customers including SABIC, Ensus and Lotte Chemical UK.

Nomi Ahmad, Head of Sembcorp Energy UK, said: “Our assets are positioned close to points of demand where power is most needed. Our sites will... mitigate blackout events such as were experienced recently.”