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Next steps to expand existing renewable energy investment are complete as new investment in second advanced battery energy storage facility is announced

| District

South Somerset District Council’s innovative Battery Energy Storage Site (BESS) investment project near Taunton has now been expanded to 30MW to maximise the capability at the site.

And the council is also excited to announce that, through its joint venture energy company SSDC Opium Power, it will also be building a 40MW Battery Storage facility near Fareham in Hampshire which will be one of the most-advanced in the UK.

John Clark, South Somerset District Council's portfolio holder for economy and income generation, said: “Now that our partnership has successfully completed the Taunton BESS project, and it is fully functioning as intended, we are in a unique position nationally to take on similar projects with experience and confidence; the Fareham project provides an ideal follow-up. With the risk reduced from our experience, we can be very confident that the new project will generate a very good return to help retain vital services.”

In light of Covid 19 the council has taken a full review of its priorities and environment strategy as part of its own economic and environmental recovery plan. This is to help the country build back better and consider its future sustainability and that of the wider UK.

Part of this review saw the council decide to invest further in Renewable Energy and Battery Storage to remain at the cutting edge of renewable energy storage and fully demonstrate its commitment to its environmental goals.

Sarah Dyke, South Somerset District Council's portfolio holder for environment, said "As well as finding significant efficiency savings, the Council is committed to protecting front line services and meeting its ambition to improve life in South Somerset. To achieve that aim whilst we are being more commercial in our approach, we also take our role in caring for the environment seriously. We are committed to doing all we can to promote the efficient use of energy resources locally and UK wide."

The idea of battery energy storage is simple - batteries store excess energy production at low usage periods, that would otherwise be wasted, and resupply it to the grid when needed at peak times.

The council has previously announced that it wanted to expand the site in Taunton to maximise the capacity and benefits, and the new investment is another demonstration of the Council's ongoing vision of creating more income generation opportunities. The council is using its resources to make investments which provide a better return than the traditional property investments, so we can inject more money into the services we deliver for our communities. Our strategy is to protect and improve core services, improve the environment, deliver public priorities and act in the best long-term interests of the district.

By investing further in battery energy storage, the Council is taking its next steps as a growing leader in this UK industry of owning and developing renewable energy, which will provide essential support to the National Grid for balancing UK power demand and storing renewable energy that would otherwise be wasted.

The new facility being created will provide 40MW of instantly available electrical power on demand to the National Grid.  This will be used to balance out fluctuating demands on the power grid.  Peaks and troughs in demand cause under and over supply if not correctly managed - this can result in power spikes or blackouts.

The project will not only assist the Council's income generation needs and contribute towards the objectives of our commercial strategy, but meets our Council Plan objectives and commitment to the environment to promote the use of green technology. It will also aid development in the region in the future by removing some of the electricity supply constraints which can be a barrier to further investment.

South Somerset District Council Leader Val Keitch said: "This second project builds on our experience and expertise, helps our environment and delivers commercial income, which is just what we want our environmental and commercial strategy to deliver. Our team has worked incredibly hard to maximise development of our first site near Taunton and to secure this exciting second development and investment; all during the added challenges of Covid-19. It will not only help the wider environment, but also provide invaluable revenue to help protect and strengthen vital services for our communities in south Somerset."

South Somerset District Council is the investor and co-owner of the new facility, Opium Power Limited will be the development manager and co-owner, BSR EPC is the project roll out connection contractor. SSE will be the local distribution network operator. KiWi Power Ltd will be the aggregator for the finished operational site.

All of our project partners are incredibly excited about this next 40MW opportunity having now maximised the capacity and benefits at the Taunton site to 30MW.

David Owen of Opium Power Limited said: "Opium Power is very excited to be working in partnership again with South Somerset District Council. Government has legislated for Net Carbon Zero, and this by default requires a sustainably powered grid. Grid Scale battery storage is required to stabilise and manage renewable energy generation. This system will also be providing additional revenues that will help protect local services in the community."

Tim Humpage, Managing Director of BSR Group, said: “BSR Group are very pleased to be selected to Design, Build and Connect this new 40MW Energy Storage Project, on behalf of SSDC Opium Power Ltd. Our appointment consolidates the close working relationship formed with SSDC Opium Power on the completion of the Fideoak BESS project”

Thomas Jennings of KiWi Power Ltd said: "This is a growing industry with services evolving all the time as the Grid relies more heavily on renewable power generation.  At Kiwi, we work hard with our partners to ensure that they are getting the best service and advice from us in terms of the energy markets.  We are delighted to be working so closely with SSDC Opium Power on their Fideoak project, and really excited by the success we're having in growing revenues for this project.  We look forward to expanding on this success with the upcoming SSDC Opium Power upcoming 40MW project on the south coast as the markets evolve further."

How significant will this operation be?

This facility is extremely significant as it represents one of the larger battery storage facilities in the country.  The site will produce 40MW of power for the grid for one hour's duration.  It will provide essential balancing and network management services to the grid.  The grid has a specific need for these services because it is transforming itself into a sustainable grid powered by renewables.

What will the return for the investment be?

This investment was carried out within the approved governance of our commercial strategy. The minimum return on investment after SSDC’s finance loan is repaid with interest is 7.5%. We anticipate an Internal Rate of Return of c14% on the same basis based upon current cashflow forecasts for the battery energy storage facility.

Where will this be built?

The location is close to Fareham in Hampshire. Revenue generation provided by a battery storage facility is highly dependent on being located near an appropriate substation that has the correct capacity requirements.  This site already had an approved grid connection and is close to a connection point.  This therefore represents a major reduction in setup and development costs. In addition, the site came with all the necessary consents and was ready to develop immediately with aim of being fully operational by the end of 2022.

Who's involved and who will develop/operate the site?

Opium Power Limited will manage the development of the site utilising the services of its technology partners, Kiwi Power and BSR EPC.

Who manages SSDC OPL Ltd, the joint venture company that the council is investing in?

The council jointly owns the company SSDC OPL Ltd with Opium Power Ltd, that was set up to trade in energy.  The Board of Directors comprises 5 members. 2 senior SSDC officers, (one of which is Chairperson for the company), 2 Directors from Opium Power Ltd and an independent industry professional.  The Shareholders have the right under reserved matters to make and change these appointments at their AGM, with SSDC having the casting vote and overall financial control of the company.

Is it environmentally friendly?

Absolutely, a significant proportion of electricity generated from solar and wind is wasted because during windy and sunny periods there can be a large oversupply and there is no ability to store this energy.  By storing excess energy in batteries, it can be resupplied to the grid when required.

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