Green light for Swindon Council’s huge energy storage facility

Photo credit: Public Power Solutions

Swindon is set to be home to one of the UK’s largest battery-based electricity storage facilities after Public Power Solutions (PPS), the wholly-owned company of Swindon Borough Council, received planning consent for the project.

The battery storage scheme, at the former Mannington Depot owned by the Council, has a permitted capacity of up to 50 MW making it one of the largest standalone batteries to be developed so far in the UK.

The brownfield site, enclosed between the A3102, railway line and Mannington Retail Park, with a grid connection via the nearby substation at Toothill, was formerly used as a municipal depot. Having successfully achieved planning consent, PPS is now in discussions with developers seeking front of the meter battery storage opportunities to take on the funding and construction of the project, which benefits from a low grid connection cost.

Steve Cains, Head of Power Solutions, PPS, said: “The project has a great location next to a sub-station, meaning the grid connection cost is very competitive – so this is a good opportunity for a developer looking for front of the meter battery storage opportunities that will enable them to generate an income in a variety of different ways.

“Local authorities are in a unique position to benefit from the growing demand for electricity storage, with diverse property portfolios and high energy consumption. We’re making it work at home here in Swindon but this project could be replicated in many other parts of the country, helping generate an income for the cash-strapped public sector.”

The project is designed to have a 30-year lifespan and will offer a long-term land rental income for Swindon Borough Council. It will be able to deliver balancing services for National Grid, to help enable the growing proportion of renewable generation in the UK, making a significant contribution to the future flexibility of the UK’s energy system and helping reduce costs for consumers.

Cllr Toby Elliott, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainability, said: “The fact this will be one of the largest battery storage schemes in the UK speaks volumes for our ambition in Swindon. It also shows our willingness to look for innovative ways in which to utilise our assets, generating an income for the Council to protect vital services.”

Connecting large batteries to the National Grid helps to smooth out the peaks and troughs which occur in power demand, and match them better with variable supply. The batteries can be used to store energy when it is abundant, and therefore cheaper, and discharge it when demand is greater and the cost is higher. The technology also helps reduce the need for expensive investment in upgrading the grid, also helping reduce energy costs for consumers in the long run.