Energy storage continues to be one of the most popular renewable energy diversifications, with the industry expected to continue its growth in 2018/19. One recent industry report said that pipeline for new battery storage projects increased 240% in 2017, with forecast installations set to rise more than 200% in 2018. The concept was relatively new in 2016 when the sector began to gain popularity. Luckily for farmers and landowners, this coincided with a reduction in the cost of the equipment, leading many to diversify into the sector.
There are various ways to approach this diversification option. Some landowners have benefited from leasing their land to developers’ battery storage projects. Alternatively, battery storage can enable the owner to use energy more efficiently and escape the restraints of their current grid connection capabilities.
If more energy is produced from a renewable project than what is consumed on-farm, storing this energy can save on energy costs in the long run. Dr. Simon Le Blond, a consultant at Swanbarton said, “Battery storage is like a grain store. It allows the producer to store energy produced on-farm for use or sale at the most opportune time”.
Battery storage could also provide a means to overcome grid and network constraints in rural areas which may have prevented diversification or expansion of the farm in the past. Mark Newton of Fisher German states, “Where battery technology is co-located with an existing renewable energy scheme, energy storage can help to balance energy demand on the grid, and to save money on purchasing electricity”.
To encourage this eco-friendly diversification, farmers are being offered grants from the Government, which would enable them to claim up to 40% of the cost of a battery storage system. The grants are subject to some limitations, one being that the minimum amount is £35,000 and the maximum amount is £1m. Also, in the case of battery storage, the total system cannot exceed 1MW and there are restraints on system capacity versus the farm’s total energy usage.
However, taking up the grant could effectively enable farmers to access grid balancing revenue streams while taking advantage of a substantial discount. Battery storage is set to continue its growth as an exciting area of development in the next couple of years, particularly for the agricultural sector.