The majority of the following article recently appeared in the Legalease Procurement and Outsourcing Journal and is aimed at helping landowners to better understand energy storage and the potential development opportunities emerging in relation to placing energy storage facilities on their land.

Local Authorities, Hospitals, Universities, Charities, Businesses and Farms are just some of the organisations placing themselves on immediate standby to feed in to emerging development opportunities around energy storage.

The Government has recently made a significant announcement for landowners looking to diversify, maximise or rationalise their estates by emphasising their future support towards making it easier for people to generate and store their own energy to sell to the National Grid and by supporting research into energy storage.

Developments involving energy storage are set to surge

A 2016 study by the Carbon Trust and Imperial College London concluded that energy storage could result in savings of around £2.4 billion per year in 2030 for the UK electricity system.

The need for energy storage on UK land is twofold: 1) Traditional means of energy distribution from sources like coal fired power stations are increasingly nearing the end of their operational lives and 2) renewable energy sources often only provide intermittent energy supplies to the National Grid.

The emerging opportunities for landowners and developers to utilise such technology to diversify the development potential of their land are varied. This is why landowners and developers with land in locations suitable for storing energy to procure to the National Grid are beginning to seek early advice from Planning Consultants to help ensure that their future planning applications are positively and accurately understood by both Local Authorities and local communities.

Energy storage will be competing against existing balancing services to the National Grid

Due to the many demands placed upon it, the National Grid currently buys Balancing Services to help balance electricity demand and electricity supply. These services are provided through a number of existing routes including demand side response, interconnectors, flexible generation and existing pumped hydro energy storage.

Whilst it is true that electricity storage therefore has to compete against a multitude of other existing balancing services, the likely increase in the use of electric heat pumps, electric vehicles and micro-generation in future years will continue to place significant new demands on the UK’s ageing electricity transmission and distribution networks. New advanced storage technologies will help to meet these new stresses on the system (and often in a more cost-effective manner).

The 2016 National Infrastructure Commission report on Smart Power perhaps hit the nail on the head when emphasising the potential for the UK to be ‘a world leader’ in using some types of energy storage technology. According to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council the UK is already currently world leading in some niche areas of energy storage, including Lithium-ion battery and supercapacitor research.

There are a diverse range of potential energy storage development opportunities for landowners

Due to the low and expected continued falling costs of battery storage technology, there is a diverse range of potential opportunities emerging for landowners including:

There are a diverse range of ways in which stored electricity can be utilised by landowners

Landowners can utilise the energy it stores in many ways, including:

In addition to storing surplus electricity to release later in the future when required, and in addition to electricity storage playing a role in helping to provide backup power which will not be interrupted, battery storage in particular can also provide ‘ancillary services’ to both the local Distribution Network Operator and the National Grid. These quick-response means of supplying energy include:

Types of battery storage

The main types of battery storage technology includes:

Alternative types of energy storage technology which do not involve batteries

Alternative types of energy storage to battery storage include:

In addition to increases in energy storage, commentators have also pointed to the need for continued advances in other types of low carbon thermal renewable energy plants to help maintain future flexibility in UK energy provision, including:

The Future of Energy Storage

In a sensibly cautious observation from the Houses of Parliament Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology Post Note 492 of April 2015 titled ‘Energy Storage’ it concluded that:

“The amount of future energy storage deployment is uncertain. It is also unknown if one or two technologies will dominate, or whether there will be a mix of technologies for different uses. Most observers agree that storage will become more economically viable as fossil-fuel-based alternatives become less competitive because of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and long-term rising fossil fuel prices. Capital costs of storage technologies may also decrease. Other factors also influence the viability of each storage sector.”

Battery storage is often thought to be more expensive than traditional peaking power plants, though it is also often faster, more environmentally sustainable, and more efficient for certain applications. If industry predictions come true over the next five years, then energy storage technologies will have an increasingly broad application across the power grid.

Experts will however be hard pushed to foresee the shape of the industry in a decade or so and a degree of caution would therefore be sensible amongst all this enthusiasm.

Planning ahead for seizing the development opportunities emerging around energy storage

Energy storage, especially from new battery storage technology, can potentially provide landowners on constrained sites with a new opportunity to maximise the potential of their land (if their land is appropriately located near to power lines). Battery storage in particular can have the potential to provide a form of development that is relatively unobtrusive compared to other forms of development. This, coupled with the national need for energy storage, could potentially be seen as a favourable form of development by Local Authorities and local communities.

As with all proposed developments however, landowners need to think very carefully about their planning strategy before putting their proposals to Local Authorities and local communities to consider.

Planning Consultants can assist landowners or developers in assessing the planning constraints of each site and subsequently help to produce Planning Statements which will intricately, clearly and accurately explain the proposed development in positive terms to local authorities.

They will also be able to assist in advising and executing an appropriate community consultation plan for engaging with affected neighbours and local communities so that the proposed development is also transparently and positively explained to local stakeholders.

Planning experts will ultimately be able to advise and assist landowners and developers on all planning matters in relation to proposed energy storage schemes (from the outset of initial projects – right through to the preparation, submission and management of planning applications).

Planning Consultants work can involve:

Local Authorities, Hospitals, Universities, Charities, Businesses, Farmers and Developers are all on immediate standby to seize the emerging development opportunities around energy storage

Organisations who may well be considering future planning applications to utilise energy storage technologies to bring down their operating costs or to maximise or diversify the potential of their land or estates include high energy consumers such as:

Further news and information

In other recent news:

‘The Local Authority Land Release Fund’, announced in the Government’s Housing White Paper earlier in the year, will provide a pot of £45 million capital funding for land remediation and infrastructure projects which aim to help deliver land for housing.

It was also announced on 1 August that One Public Estate (OPE) has launched a new funding window giving new areas the opportunity to apply to join the programme, as well as existing One Public Estate partnerships the opportunity to access additional funding to further develop their proposed plans.

Partnerships will be able to apply for up to £500,000 revenue funding to deliver land and projects in local areas and full details of the announcements can be found on the website.

If you are a local authority, hospital, university, charity, business, farm or other developer or landowner wishing to have early dialogue in relation to potential future planning assistance to develop your land or estate, then please do not hesitate to email the Paris Smith Planning team in the first instance and we will be very happy to assist you.