As renewable technologies continue to supply an increasing proportion of energy to the grid, the need for battery storage technology at scale across the UK is intensifying. Due to the intermittent nature of wind and solar power (cloudy or wind-less days), energy storage is critical to maintain a reliable supply of renewable energy to households and businesses.
To help meet the demand, our client, Statera Energy Ltd is developing its portfolio of battery storage facilities and turned to our experts for environmental assessment and management advice to back up a strong planning application. Our sustainability experts also advised on the lifecycle carbon savings that a development of this type unlocks.
Grendon Lakes Battery Storage Facility
Statera Energy Limited
For this application, we had to demonstrate the environmental impacts of the development, highlighting any necessary mitigation measures to be taken to reduce such impact.
Key to this was understanding and conveying how the development affects greenhouse gas emissions over its whole life cycle, from both construction and operation. While construction of the batteries and electrical infrastructure may carry a carbon cost, operation of its storage capacity unlocks renewable deployment and ensures that wind or solar generation is not wasted. The development consists of a number of elements, including substations, transformers, switchgear and cooling plant, however it is the battery technology that comes with the greatest magnitude of embodied carbon. The production of batteries is particularly carbon intensive, with several manufacturing processes making up the majority of associated embodied emissions. While these processes are unlikely to take place within the UK, it was important to consider their impact given the global nature of climate change. Understanding where the carbon impacts lie will enable the developer to engage more effectively with its supply chain about reductions.
Other challenges included the impact on the historic environment and on the floodplain landscape within which the site is situated. It was noted that the site had potential for the presence of buried archaeological remains, with crop marks identified on historic aerial photographs suggesting possible Prehistoric activity that could be damaged during construction works. With regard to the landscape impact, the site occupies a slightly elevated position which may make it visible from within the floodplain and surrounding landscape, impacting the character of the immediate landscape.
We prepared an Environmental Statement for the proposed development to accompany its planning application, including additional specialist assessments. Battery storage at large scale is still quite new to the planning system, and we drew on extensive experience with managing the impacts of conventional and renewable energy generators in carrying out this work.
Our team undertook robust assessments and appraisals of the development, and were able to demonstrate the benefits of the battery storage facility were significant enough to outweigh the localised and temporary harms.
The magnitude of embodied carbon from construction was reviewed within the context of a whole-life carbon assessment. This found that the operational phase of the project would enable the storage and use of excess renewable electricity in place of electricity supplied by the alternative – peaking plants – resulting in a saving of emissions compared to business-as-usual without the battery storage. It was calculated that the magnitude of this saving allowed construction emissions to be paid back within three years of operation.
Our team also engaged with the local planning authority to agree a bespoke targeted programme of pre-commencement archaeological investigation in order to better understand the presence, nature and date of any archaeological remains within the site. Following this, we will be able to prepare an appropriate strategy to avoid, reduce or offset any impacts that could occur as a result of construction and enable the development to proceed.
Mitigation proposed to limit the development’s impact on the landscape included increased screening of the site through the planting of native species trees and hedgerows.
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