The Energy Storage Report 2024

Now available to download, covering deployments, technology, policy and finance in the energy storage market

Friday Briefing: Community opposition fuels local authority reluctance at UK’s Cleve Hill battery project


This Friday Briefing focuses on the situation around Cleve Hill Solar Park, a co-located solar and battery project that is the latest to fall foul of its local community.

Cleve Hill Solar Park is a planned large-scale solar-plus-storage project in southern England, UK, long discussed in industry circles for its ambitious scale.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Enjoy 12 months of exclusive analysis

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Annual digital subscription to the PV Tech Power journal
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

Unfortunately, it has now hit mainstream media headlines – for the wrong reasons – due to local authorities finding shortcomings in the project’s safety management planning.

First covered by our colleagues at Solar Power Portal back in 2017, as announced by co-developers Hive Energy and Wirsol, it was considered “huge” and “pioneering”, with a solar PV generation capacity in excess of 350MW.

It would still be among the UK’s largest solar PV plants, but since then, the Hive-Wirsol SPV has added 150MW/700MWh of battery storage to its design.

While in the intervening years that battery storage system sizing has become less eye-catching in the context of some of the other very big projects around the world, it remains a landmark project in terms of what it would mean for UK clean energy infrastructure development.

However, at the end of February, local residents held a protest over the perceived fire and explosion risk of Cleve Hill’s lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries.

A lengthy debate ensued, and a committee of the local council of Swale Borough in the county of Kent, where the project will be sited, refused its battery safety management plan.

Cleve Hill had already been granted planning permission all the way back in 2020, which went through despite an earlier attempt by Swale Borough Council to overturn the decision. Construction on the solar power plant began in April last year, and investor Quinbrook has come on board.

The latest buffer it has hit is perhaps a temporary obstacle rather than a total halt to proceedings, but it still doesn’t give hugely encouraging signals that community engagement and local authority acceptance of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery energy storage system (BESS) projects are going smoothly.

We’ll be looking at the topic of fire safety and stakeholder engagement on fire safety in some depth for an ESN Premium article next week. In it, we speak to system integrator and BESS manufacturers Trina Storage and Wartsila, as well as battery analytics company ACCURE about what the industry is doing from a technology standpoint, as well as what’s being done in terms of educating local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and by extension, local communities.

After the 2019 fire and explosion at the McMicken BESS in Surprise, Arizona, US, which many considered a watershed moment, putting together safety response plans and communicating them with first responders and community members has become an industry best practice.

While we don’t know exactly how the Cleve Hill plan was assessed, the story does imply that some level of standardisation in response plans, as well as mandatory aspects that would put local planners’ minds at rest, would be desirable.

We’ve already seen that happen in California last year, and we can likely expect it to be the case in New York soon too.

There will always be challenges associated with gaining acceptance of new energy technologies, but ultimately, the industry needs to get ahead of this issue and show leadership before it becomes an even more thorny one.

This week on ESN Premium

Market reacts to falling BESS prices

We heard from system integrator, developer and EPC delegates at the Energy Storage Summit EU in London about the implications of falling BESS prices.

As reported last month, global prices for battery energy storage systems (BESS) have been on a downward trend since early 2023, having shot up in 2022.

Clean Energy Associates (CEA) took a deep dive into BESS pricing and the dynamics underlying the recent falls in the most recent edition of Solar Media’s quarterly journal PV Tech Power, which of course, you can access in full as part of your subscription to ESN Premium.

Powin developing more energy-dense, higher-power BESS product to compete with China

System integrator Powin is working on a new grid-scale BESS product to compete with increasingly competitive products from China, senior VP Danny Lu told us.

In an in-person interview, Lu also discussed other topics, including the Waratah Super Battery project in Australia, fire safety and manufacturing strategy.

Lu said the new Powin Energy battery energy storage system (BESS) product would be a higher power and higher energy density alternative to its current Centipede modular grid-scale platform in a response to a question about competing with China’s existing and emerging global BESS providers.

Highly technical subject of battery analytics is ‘now something for the CFO to think about’

Kai-Philipp Kairies, CEO of analytics firm ACCURE, discusses some of the areas in which battery analytics can have the most impact on battery energy storage system (BESS) project success.

Kairies says that while analytics may previously have been considered the domain of the more technical members of a battery storage project team, their impact on the bottom line means it’s increasingly “a topic for the CFO”.

Last year, Kairies contributed the article: ‘Using battery analytics to support BESS commissioning: A technical deep dive,’ which ran in Vol.35 of our journal PV Tech Power, alongside the companion piece, ‘Cloud-based analytics for de-risking BESS deployment and operation ‘from Dr Stephan Rohr, Sebastian Becker and Dr Matthias Simolka at TWAICE.

In this article, we take a more informal look at the role of analytics at different stages of the BESS development and life cycles.

Gigafactory firm Morrow Batteries targets lower-lead time ESS market with first-phase production

Andreas Maier, COO of one of the few energy storage-focused lithium-ion gigafactory companies in Europe, Morrow Batteries, talked to about the firm’s go-to-market strategy and what the future holds for Europe’s gigafactory space.

The company is going to begin operations at its first lithium-ion gigafactory in Arendal, Norway, this year, with an initial annual production capacity of 1GWh with three later phases aimed at increasing that to 43GWh by 2028 (all at one site).

Like its fellow Norwegian-founded peer Freyr, Morrow is – at least with its first phase – primarily selling into the energy storage system (ESS) market. It is selling lithium iron phosphate (LFP cells) to system integrators working in the commercial and industrial (C&I) and residential application segments.

Eos, ESS Inc and Energy Vault narrow losses and lower costs on long ‘path to profitability’

Eos Energy Enterprises, ESS Inc and Energy Vault have increased their revenues and narrowed losses, according to financial results from the three ‘non-lithium’ energy storage companies.

The trio, which all listed their stock publicly following mergers with special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, have reported their latest quarterly and full-year 2023 results in the past couple of weeks.

As covered Eos, ESS Inc and Energy Vault’s financials collectively for Q3 2023, we continue to do so here.

This article has been amended to reflect that the incident at the McMicken BESS occurred in 2019, not 2017.

Read Next

Most Popular

Email Newsletter