In this blog I outline some of the key considerations for landowners and farmers who are looking to place themselves on standby to feed in to emerging new opportunities in energy storage and distribution.
This is a blog which I first published in part last year, but which has gained ever growing momentum in recent months – and especially now following the Government’s high level announcements this week in relation to its future support for energy storage and tackling air pollution.
With traditional means of energy distribution from sources like coal fired power stations increasingly nearing the end of their operational lives – and with newer and often more inflexible renewable energy sources providing only intermittent energy supplies to the national grid – suitable locations for balancing services like peaking power plants which are procured by the national grid appear to have a good chance of continuing to be sought after in the years ahead.
Peaking Power Plants’, aka ‘Peaker Plants’ or ‘Peakers’, relate to an increasingly sought after type of energy power plant which generally only runs when there is a high demand for electricity. This high demand for electricity is known as ‘peak demand’. Crucially for landowners: because Peaking Power Plants supply electricity only occasionally to deal with peak electricity demands, the power they supply often consequently commands a much higher price per kilowatt hour than normal ‘base load power plants’ (which usually supply a dependable level of electricity to meet only minimum levels of demand). The land requirements for Peaking Plants can however be quite specific, and so landowners are advised to consider seeking professional advice in order to scope whether their land is likely to be a potential suitable site for a future Peaking Power Plant.
As well as Peaking Power Plants, the low and falling costs of battery technology is opening up a very diverse range of other opportunities for farmers and landowners in relation to energy storage and distribution projects. These include projects in relation to:
- Energy Barns (large storage batteries connected to high voltage electricity networks with multiple batteries and associated control systems located near to power lines and electrical substations and housed in air conditioned agricultural type units or in containers on hardstanding.)
- Retrofitting battery storage alongside existing solar farms.
- Retrofitting battery storage alongside existing wind farms.
- Providing battery storage projects in conjunction with solar barn roofs.
- Providing battery storage in conjunction with other small scale renewable projects connected to local distribution networks.
- Providing community battery storage projects, alongside PV technology, to provide neighbourhood/community level energy distribution.
- Providing charging points for electric cars.
- Helping to reduce organisations’ and farms’ electricity operating costs.
Battery storage may in some cases have the potential to open up lots of different ways for landowners to use the energy it produces and stores including:
- Storing energy for the local grid network (‘STOT’ = Short Term Operating Reserve) for when there are surges in demand.
- Regulating energy flows to the local grid network.
- Enhancing the value of existing onsite energy generation.
Other types of energy storage, other than battery storage, include:
- Compressed air storage.
- Liquefied gas storage.
- Highspeed flywheels.
- Gravity storage.
- Pumped hydro storage reservoirs.
As well as increases in energy storage, some commentators also point to the need for continued advances in other types of renewable energy to create more flexibility in the energy market. These include:
- Power plants like biomass.
- Biogas or fossil fuels with carbon capture.
Through our combined offering of planning consultancy with additional planning law support, individual clients, companies, charities, local authorities and statutory undertakers come to our planning team because of our ability to offer swift, reliable and insightful advice which draws upon our extensive experience of the planning and political landscape in which their strategic decisions are being made.
If you are a landowner and this communication has been of some interest to you, please feel free to email me with your name, address, contact details and details of any future planning assistance you may require.
You may also be interested in requesting future articles relating to ‘Planning for Farm diversification.’