GBSL sees grid-balancing opportunities for storage projects

UK: Energy storage developer Grid Battery Storage Limited (GBSL) is developing several projects in Britain.

GBSL aims to folow 'stacked revenue' model, similar to UK Power Networks' lithium ion battery plant

The company’s pipeline consists of battery storage projects that range from 1MW to 10MW. Two of these – both in southern England – have reached planning consent.

GBSL was set up in October 2015, initially seeking to develop energy storage that would earn revenues from the enhanced frequency response (EFR) market, a new ancillary services market operated by UK transmission system operator National Grid.

Despite GBSL’s projects not being selected, co-founder James McKellar says the prospect for energy storage in the UK is good. "We think the battery storage space is exciting, because there is a growing need for balancing the system, as more coal-fired assets are retired, and for providing back-up."

The company is developing projects that can achieve a mix of savings such as deferring grid investments, by peak shaving, as well as balancing services. Energy storage plants have operational lifetimes in the region of renewable energy plants, of 20 years, while most ancillary services markets pay out for only the first few years of the storage plant’s operational lifetime.

Within the next two years McKellar expects several projects in GBSL’s pipeline to be built and operational.  

"We are confident that the demand for grid balancing services is going to continue, which is good for energy storage, but what we cannot be certain about is the actual prices that will be paid for these services," Said McKellar.

"That is why developing projects with stacked or more than one saving/revenue stream is a way to extract the full value from this technology and achieve better returns. We don’t advocate subsidies because, as the renewables sector has shown, this can impact certainty when any cuts to support are made. But we certainly welcome fixed longer-term contracts."

GBSL will not necessarily build and operate all of the sites that it develops. It may, in some cases, develop sites and sell these on.


Planning consents

Because energy storage is a relatively new type of asset on the grid, some of the earlier planning applications have been challenging to complete. "When you compare energy storage with wind and solar PV plants, which take up large areas and are visible, in comparison energy storage facilities consist of a few containers. With adequate attention to landscaping they are much less obtrusive than solar and wind farms."

The company is working with a range of energy storage technology and system providers. All projects will use lithium ion batteries.

"We are solely a developer/operator of energy storage, so we are working with turnkey providers and integrators of energy storage systems," McKellar said.

Law firm TLT has advised GBSL on several prospective sites, including the 10MW Hampshire project, on aspects such as securing land rights for sites, real estate due diligence and planning.

"Over 4GW worth of projects were not successful in winning contracts for the new EFR market, which shows the amount of potential for energy storage in the UK," said partner Maria Connolly, who is head of real estate and energy and renewables,

"Many of these developers are looking at other tenders for providing other grid balancing services, as well as other commercial opportunities, including behind-the-meter projects."

TLT is also working with developers in the UK that are seeking to develop energy storage at existing renewable energy generation sites, where co-locating storage can make use of existing grid connections, saving on development costs.