South Somerset District Council invests in renewable energy

Somerset will be at the “cutting edge of renewable energy storage” following a significant investment in the first phase of a major new project announced by South Somerset District Council.

The district council, in partnership with Somerset-based Opium Power Limited, is to build a new 25MW battery storage facility that will provide essential power management assistance to the National Grid – the equivalent to powering over 30,000 homes.

A district council spokesperson said it will be one of the largest and most-advanced in the UK, with the potential to increase the capacity of the facility in the future.

The aim is for it to be rolled out and operational by the end of 2018.

For site security reasons, the exact location of the Somerset site cannot be disclosed, but it is in a position only 75-metres (246 ft) from a major grid substation.

The district council spokesperson added: “It is part of the district council’s new vision of creating more income generation opportunities, using our resources to make investments which provide a better return so we can inject more money into the services we deliver for our communities.

“By investing in battery energy storage, the district council is taking its first exciting step into ownership and development of renewable energy which will provide essential support to the National Grid for balancing power demand and storing renewable energy that would otherwise be wasted.”

Battery storage similar to that which will used in the facility to be created in Somerset

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 facility being created will provide 25MW of instantly available electrical power on demand to the National Grid. This will be used to balance out fluctuating demands on the local Somerset power grid. Peaks and troughs in demand cause under- and over-supply if not correctly managed – this can result in power spikes or blackouts.

South Somerset District Council leader Ric Pallister said: “This project is just what we want our commercial strategy to deliver.

“Our team has worked incredibly hard to secure an exciting investment which will not only help the environment, but also provide invaluable revenue to help protect and strengthen vital services for our communities.

“The project will not only assist the district council’s income generation needs and contribute towards the objectives of our commercial strategy, it also meets our Council Plan objectives and commitment 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.”

Henry Hobhouse, South Somerset District Council’s portfolio holder for property and income generation, said it was a “superb example” of working with key partners to invest in green technology that will be of lasting national benefit.

He added: “As well as finding significant efficiency savings, the district council is committed to protecting frontline services and meeting its ambition to improve life in South Somerset.

“To achieve that aim we are being more commercial in our approach and making investments that will deliver valuable income. 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.”

Electricity pylons and a typical battery storage set-up (inset)

Whilst South Somerset District Council is the investor and co-owner of the facility, Opium Power Limited will be the project manager and co-owner; BYD Europe BV will be the battery supplier; and Shepton Mallet-based BSR Connect is the project roll-out connection contractor. Western Power Distribution will be the local distribution network operator.

Jason Dobson of Opium Power Limited said: “Opium Power is very excited to be working in partnership with South Somerset District Council to assist in protecting the local area against power issues and also providing additional revenues that will help protect local services in the community.”

Simon Roberts, managing director of BSR Connect, said the company was “really pleased” to be the project’s Independent Connections Provider (ICP), while Jerome Qi, European director of sales for BYD Europe BV, said BYD was “looking forward” to working in partnership with South Somerset District Council and Opium Power.

About The Editor

Hello! I'm KATE, a journalist, editor and broadcaster with 20 years experience in the industry. I have worked at the BBC, ITV, Heart and Sky Sports News.

I've lived in Somerset for most of my life and set up LOVE SOMERSET ONLINE in 2016. I love the seaside and am partial to a good gin and tonic.

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