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UK’s largest battery project to move ahead in Swindon

Jillian Ambrose
battery site - AFP

One of the UK’s largest power storage projects will move ahead on a former municipal depot site in Swindon as Britain’s battery boom gains pace.

Swindon Borough Council’s battery will have capacity of 50MWh, the largest that a power project approved by local authorities can be.

It is one of a number of small-scale projects mushrooming across the country as battery technology costs drop and Government’s £246m battery boost takes hold.

Larger utility-scale projects are under development by FTSE 100 energy giants Centrica and Drax.

Swindon Council said the project is designed to have a 30-year lifespan which will offer a long-term land rental income and deliver balancing services for National Grid.

By connecting large batteries to the grid, users can help to smooth out the peaks and troughs of power demand by drawing from their own storage when prices climb.

Steve Cains, of Swindon Borough Council’s Public Power Solutions, said: “Local authorities are in a unique position to benefit from the growing demand for electricity storage, with diverse property portfolios and high energy consumption."

He added: “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 greenlight comes just days after private equity firm Gore Street Capital said it plans to launch the world’s first listed energy storage investment fund on the London Stock Exchange next month.

The Gore Street Energy Fund aims to raise £100m to fund a pipeline of battery projects, which managing partner Alex O’Cinneide has said will “fulfill a core infrastructure need in the UK”.

Batteries are able to improve the effectiveness of renewable energy projects by storing power from the wind or solar projects to use when their output wanes.

Balancing the grid by making better use of the capacity already in place can help to reduce spending on new generation projects, which is likely to drive costs for the consumer lower in the long-run.

Gore Street’s portfolio already includes the Boulby plant in North Yorkshire and a 49pc stake in the Cenin scheme in Wales, as well as the Lower Road project in Essex, which is preparing to begin construction.