Project background

In an ambitious move to increase revenue from existing land assets, Cambridgeshire County Council sought specialist consultancy support for a site and technology option assessment for peaking power generation and battery storage. The council had no prior experience of this market, but has been successful in developing their own renewable energy schemes, including a 10MW solar PV scheme, funded under CfD and commissioned in 2017.

ADAS was selected to carry out the work because of its expertise in GIS mapping, its track record in delivering support for developers of renewable energy schemes/other energy projects and its long experience of working with agricultural landowners on projects to diversify income and develop new business. The work was tendered through a competitive process which attracted bids from 17 other consultancies.

The aim of the project was to identify sites that could be developed to generate additional income to help protect front-line services.

Actions taken

The council put forward 204 sites, ranging from large farm estates to educational centres in urban areas, to assess the potential for peaking power generation and energy storage projects.

The methodology included:

  • Using GIS software to screen sites for known environmental, planning and development constraints,
  • Assessing network viability through network analysis and discussions with network operator,
  • Review of relevant planning policies,
  • Visits to selected sites for more detailed assessment.

Screening

Screening was carried out using ADAS’ in-house GIS mapping tool which provides information on a range of constraints – e.g. flood risk, green belt, environmental land designations, residential properties, and can import additional data like grid network asset locations.

A range of technology options and scales were considered at different grid network connection options. For each option, a financial model was constructed to provide the client with a breakdown that included capital expenditure, revenues and Operation & Maintenance costs. ADAS provided a detailed summary of technologies, markets, and revenue risks to be considered.

Finally, a review of planning national and local policies was carried out and similar applications already considered by the relevant planning authorities were assessed.

As a result of the screening process, four potential sites were identified (three farm sites and one urban) and project proposals formulated to suit these sites ranging from 1 to 40MW in scale. These included stand-alone projects, providing services to the ancillary markets, as well as projects that utilised on-site renewable generation to generate savings on existing consumption and generate income from energy storage markets.

Results

The projects recommended for further investigation were energy storage rather than peaking power, reflecting the current market which favours batteries to store energy already generated until it is needed rather than using fossil fuels to generate energy on demand.

The report recommended a joint venture between Cambridgeshire County Council and a private sector specialist to maximise the financial benefits whilst mitigating some of the risks associated with an emerging market. Guidance was also provided on alternative energy storage technologies, policy / market structures and changes that may impact on any viability decision.

Cambridgeshire Council is now reviewing the options presented in the report and considering how best to take forward these exciting opportunities.

Contact for more information

To learn more, visit our Renewable Energy and Low Carbon Development webpage.

Cambridgeshire Farm Estate sites against Agricultural Land Classification