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Local authority’s sustainable energy arm in west England files 50MW battery proposal

The 50MW system would connect to a substation (not pictured).

A sustainable energy company founded by Swindon Borough Council, a local authority in western England, has submitted plans for a 50MW battery energy storage system (BESS) for its latest project.

Public Power Solutions (PPS), established in 2010 and refocused on to sustainable energy solutions and waste treatment three years later, submitted documents on 10 November pertaining to the proposed project at the former Mannington Depot.

Unlike previous projects put together by PPS, such as the first solar farms to be funded through a local authority bond offer, if approved the battery storage scheme will be developed for sale. This will potentially put one of the largest projects of its kind in the UK up for grabs, with a spokesperson for PPS telling our UK sister site Solar Power Portal that the company and Swindon Borough Council will make a decision about how to proceed further with the project when planning consent has been granted.

Once completed, PPS expects the battery to be used to deliver balancing services to the grid, as well as play into the Capacity Market and more, however as a spokesperson said this will be determined by the market landscape as well as the eventual owner.

“It could provide frequency response, capacity market or energy arbitrage but it is dependent on the National Grid Strategy which is being published in Q1 next year, and also who ends up purchasing the scheme and how they own and operate it,” she said.

The site, enclosed between a main road, railway line and a retail park, is previously developed land which was formerly used as a municipal depot and will connect to the grid via a nearby substation at Toothill.

The lithium-ion batteries would be housed in containers with a 30-year lifespan for the project as a whole, and offer significant land rental value for Swindon Borough Council for the brownfield site.

Steve Cains, head of power solutions at PPS, said: “We’re really excited that Swindon continues to lead the way with implementing innovative green energy technologies. Rapid technological advances have now made energy storage a viable proposition.

“This has the potential to be a real game changer, helping to integrate the variable generation from renewables, reduce costs for consumers, and build a clean energy system fit for the future. The site at Mannington is perfect for a facility like this, and we’d like to help other local authorities develop similar projects.”

If successfully approved following a targeted eight week consideration period, the project would follow successful deployment of renewables by the council’s subsidiary in the form of its community solar farms.

Cllr Toby Elliott, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for sustainability, said: “I am really excited by this battery storage project, which builds on the success of our award-winning community solar farm schemes and shows that Swindon is once again blazing the trail in the clean energy field.

“It also shows how our inventive use of technology can generate an income for the Council at a time when we are having to close a £30m funding gap over the next two and a half years.”

If planning consent is obtained, the project is expected to be operational by 2019.