Shell will buy and trade electricity from what’s claimed to be Europe’s biggest battery storage project currently being built by Chinese players in the UK, in another big step by the oil group into the power sector.

Shell Energy Europe signed a multi-year offtake deal for output from the 100MW/100MWh Minety storage project in southwest England, underway under a collaboration between China Huaneng Group and Chinese sovereign wealth fund CNIC.

Power from the project, designed to balance intermittent wind and solar output on the UK grid, will be traded by Shell’s specialist Limejump subsidiary, which is claimed to manage the largest network of batteries in the UK.

The Minety project is due to enter service at the end of 2020 using LiFePO/ternary lithium battery technology.

Shell said the offtake deal provides the financial certainty needed to proceed with the project.

Shell Energy Europe vice president David Wells said: “Projects like this will be vital for balancing the UK’s electricity demand and supply as wind and solar power play bigger roles in powering our lives.”

The deal marks the latest inroad into the power sector by the oil & gas supermajor, whose interests in renewables and clean energy now include major solar developments, offshore wind project stakes, the floating wind pioneer Eolfi and Tesla’s rival in the battery storage space, Sonnen.

The Minety project will be built using more than 80% China-made equipment, China Huaneng said when it announced the start of construction on the project at the end of December.

News of the giant battery project comes at a time of controversy over Chinese involvement in UK infrastructure, particularly plans to involve Huawei in the nation’s 5G telecoms network and suggestions China could build Britain’s new high-speed railway.