Export, and import?

The first interesting thing we found in the application is outlined in the 1.2 Application Form file. This is a copy of the information that the developers entered into The Planning Inspectorate’s website as part of their submission.

Question 22 ‘Additional information for specific types of infrastructure’ asks for details on certain types of development. The connection to the National Grid is highlighted with both export and import being mentioned:

The electricity generated by the Development will be exported via an underground high voltage 400 kV cable system between the Development substation and the NGET substation located within the existing Cleve Hill Substation at NGR TR 04911 63997.

The 400 kV cable system will allow electricity to be exported and imported from the Development to facilitate the charging of the energy storage facility. The cable system is expected to comprise a single 400 kV circuit with 3 conducting cores placed in a single trench. Either ducting would be utilised or the cables would be directly buried.

What does this mean?

Why is Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd (CHSP) applying for the facility to import energy? Their proposal is to be a low-carbon energy generator – as their website says: to “generate renewable power through photovoltaic panels, providing clean power to UK homes”. We can understand how generated energy needs to be exported to the National Grid. The question is how will importing energy from the National Grid into their battery help CHSP to achieve low-carbon energy generation? 

Back in June we raised concerns about the battery element of this scheme. Details available then were scarce, but the application confirms that the energy storage facility would be used for import and export. In Australia a similar battery set up is reported as a potential money spinner, making $1 million (Australian Dollars) profit in two days.

5 thoughts on “Export, and import?”

  1. It uses the phrase “to facilitate the charging of the energy storage facility” which, to me, implies simply that the storage facility needs an initial charge to get it into an optimal condition. Your car has a generator to charge the battery, but you wouldn’t put a flat battery into your car and expect to be able to drive away – you’d charge it up first. If it bothers you why not simply ask CHSP to clarify..?

    Chris Callaghan

  2. I understand your concern about the scale and location of this scheme but don’t fully understand your reservations around the battery element. Battery storage is a brand new industry without a mature or proven business model so developers are likely to be vague about details as future policy changes could have huge impacts on how they generate money. See recent EU decision to suspend capacity payments – this potentially pulls the rug out from under most of the large scale batteries currently being built in the UK.

    Your example from Australia is interesting but isnt all that relevant to the UK. Australia has extremely expensive electricity and the South Australian grid needed an urgent installation to manage risk of blackouts and were willing to pay for a rapid solution. The Tesla battery does seem to have done very well financially by being first to market but it is possibly a one off case. This article from the same website illustrates the point that batteries are a long way from being proven to be cash cows or even safe investments. https://reneweconomy.com.au/the-stunning-numbers-behind-success-of-tesla-big-battery-63917/

    The reality is that we will need more and more technology like this as offshore wind and more solar come online. It is becoming common place for all big energy projects (even gas power stations) to include them as they serve an important purpose.

    I do sympathise with your cause though. It is a huge development and there is a debate about whether we have the right geography for projects like this. I just dont understand the resistance to the battery part. Is it the size specifically? I wasnt sure how much space the batteries would take up as a proportion of the overall project.

  3. You need this for utility scale battery – it will be able to change from the solar park or the grid as it makes the most economic sense to do so, eg if it’s really sunny in the middle of the day and prices are low, you charge the battery rather than selling to the grid and discharge at peak times say 7pm. Simerley you would charge from the grid at night when prices are low and discharge in the morning peak before the solar gets going. So you also need import connection.

    • Your point about charging the battery at night from the grid could be right – but how is that generating carbon-free energy? That’s what they say their business is.

  4. Generating is done my the solar but the battery is peak, or load shifting so buying and selling at a different time. It will be buying from the grid though and I don’t think we know yet what that PPA looks like, although I haven’t read everything yet! You wouldn’t usually enter into this contract till it’s nearly operational as the power market changes. You clearly couldn’t be buying from other solar parks as none of them will be working at night either! It is most likely just from the grid although you can get ‘green’ PPAs. Batteries also provide frequency and capacity services to the grid. Although the ECJ has just ruled that the capacity payments are illegal so this is a bit up in the air at the moment. Hope this helps!

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