Utility-scale solar-plus-storage project could be a first for Wales

  • Countryside Renewables

    The 49.9MW site would combine solar with battery storage capabilities to provide the first "peaker plant" in Wales. Image: Countryside Renewables

A planning application for a landmark solar and storage development has been submitted which could result in the largest solar development to be built in Wales.

If approved, the 49.9MW scheme at Llanbadrig in Anglesey would see the project developed on 220 acres of agricultural farmland and could be the first in Wales to battery storage.

The project has been put forward by Countryside Renewables and would generate enough renewable energy to power around 15,500 homes annually, equivalent to half of the homes on the island, while also acting as a “peaker plant” for energy distribution.

According to Bilfinger GVA, which acted as the agent for the application, the battery capability would enable the project to store electricity during the day to release at times of peak demand.  This capacity would allow the project to provide a smooth output and avoid any intermittency of supply to the grid.

Despite the potential of the site, it remains unclear how the project will be funded or who will be involved in the project. SPP has been unable to contact Country Renewables to gain further details.

Bilfinger GVA says this option, combined with the economies of scale from the size of the project, would allow the project to deliver on the challenges of meeting what the Department of Energy and Climate has dubbed the energy “trilemma” - reducing emissions, improving energy security and reducing costs for energy users.

Ben Lewis, energy specialist at Bilfinger GVA in Cardiff, said: “This solar farm will be a landmark development, not just because of its capacity, but also its efficiency thanks to new storage technology.

“The size of the project allows it to make a meaningful contribution to energy generation in Wales and the UK, whilst complying with best practice guidelines to have minimal environmental and visual impacts on the surrounding landscape.”

Energy storage systems are considered to be a key area for development in the UK market following cuts to government subsidy for solar projects. Speaking at the recent Solar Finance and Investment conference in London, Angus MacDonald, chief executive of British Solar Renewables (BSR), said: "Storage is going to be such an important part of the future because you're storing what you produce and therefore you're getting a much more level cost of energy throughout the day. I think ultimately we'll get to the stage where energy costs are about the same throughout the day.”

This potential is expected to be demonstrated at a recently launched project in Somerset, which will deliver an energy storage system co-located with large-scale solar. The initiative between Western Power Distribution and Renewable Energy Systems (RES) will be used to develop ways to commercialise services to the grid.

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