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UK roundup: Harmony and JLEN energise projects, gov mulls VAT rule change for home storage

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Investors Harmony Energy and JLEN have energised battery storage projects in the UK, while the government is considering a VAT exemption for home battery storage.

JLEN Environmental Assets Group Limited inaugurated its first operational grid-scale battery project in Dundee, Scotland, last week. The environmental infrastructure fund’s West Gordie 50MW lithium-ion plant has now started commercial operations and is hoped to provide “critical balancing support to the GB grid”.

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Engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor Anesco undertook the construction of the project with management oversight from the Foresight Group construction team and DNV-GL (the appointed Owners Engineer).

The project will be operated by optimiser Flextiricity, whilst renewable energy equipment supplier Green Nation and Anesco will provide asset management and operations and maintenance services respectively.

JLEN’s announcement came a few days after Harmony Energy Income Trust (HEIT) announced that a 20MW/40MWh battery energy storage project in Farnham was successfully energised.

HEIT, a fund which invests in battery energy storage systems (BESS), stated that in achieving this key milestone for the project, the BESS is on track to be fully operational by the end of this month (June 2023). This will take HEIT’s operational portfolio to 129MW/258MWh.

Farnham is HEIT’s third project to be energised following its 98MW/196MWh Pillswood BESS project, which went live ahead of schedule in November 2022 as reported by our sister site Solar Power Portal, and its second BESS project the 11MW/22MWh Broadditch project located in Kent.

As Energy-Storage.news wrote last week, the Pillswood BESS is the largest operational BESS in Europe and was one of the best-performing in the UK market in the first three months of the year.

Government mulls VAT rule changes for home battery storage

In related news, the UK government also confirmed last week it is consulting on changing VAT rules on energy saving materials that enhance a household’s capacity to use solar energy. It revealed the consultation in a letter to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC).

Last week’s announcement (31 May) follows an open letter from the EAC to Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, Grant Shapps, detailing findings from its inquiry into how technological development can bolster energy produced by solar installations.

In the letter, the MPs from the EAC called for VAT to be removed from battery energy storage systems (BESS) when the technology is installed alongside or retrospective to an existing rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

Installing a BESS alongside a solar PV system allows households to store the excess solar energy when it is not needed to then be used at night or during peak times.

In response, the government’s letter to the Committee outlined the work currently underway to address these concerns such as workstreams with Ofgem, network companies and National Grid ESO.

The Committee has said it will monitor the progress of these workstreams during its current enquiry: Enabling sustainable electrification of the UK economy.

Original versions of these articles appeared on Solar Power Portal. Additional reporting by Lena Dias Martins and George Heynes.

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