Harmony Energy is proposing a 99.9MW battery energy storage scheme (BESS) on land immediately adjacent and south of Wakefield B substation. We wanted to take this opportunity to give some detail about our proposal and to present the facts concerning key matters such as the proposed technology and development site.
The Proposed Site and Location
The site has been chosen because of its proximity to the substation and the fact the substation is of sufficient size with spare capacity to accommodate a utility scale BESS.
Upon determining the acceptability of the site to host BESS, Harmony Energy has considered a multitude of technical and environmental constraints such as (but not limited to) landscape designations, effects on biodiversity and residential amenity. Cognisant of the village of Heath, the proposal has been designed so that it sits in the lowest part of the field and would be cut into the hillside to enhance screening.
As a result, it is not anticipated that any of the Heath residential properties will have views of the development. There will be certain views towards the site from the new build housing estate to the south, however the proposed acoustic fence and new planting (once matured) will screen the battery packs and infrastructure in its totality. This would ultimately be in keeping and a continuation on from the landscaping associated with the adjacent substation, which isn’t visible.
The field proposed for development is currently intensively farmed. The planning application boundary is just over 7.2 hectares, but this is predominantly set aside for woodland and wildflower meadow planting. The total developed area (including the access track) equates to just under 1.9 hectares.
In light of the Environment Act 2021, developers are required to plan for biodiversity improvements on new development sites. The current provision stipulates that a 10% uplift is required to be provided. Harmony Energy has made a concerted effort to provide additional uplift over the standard requirement, and in doing so, the scheme would bring about a ‘biodiversity net-gain’ of over 140%. This would bring about significant opportunities for wildlife, including invertebrates and birds, to take up permanent residence in the site. In addition, no pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers will be used on the area, thus enabling the wildlife to flourish. Similar to the tree belt that exists around Wakefield B substation, the proposed planting surrounding the BESS will mature and eventually screen all of the site from all views.
Safety and Resilience
We are aware that the main concern of Heath Residents Association (HRA) is a cited explosion, toxic gas and fire risk, noting recent press releases and extensive flyers. Harmony Energy has tried to contact the HRA a number of times to discuss this point in detail and we repeat our offer to meet.
We appreciate it must be alarming to those who are unfamiliar with the technology or industry safety standards to hear news of battery fires. However, to put this into context, there has only been one fire in the UK on a battery site. Harmony Energy cannot comment on the specifics of that fire, but we can state that the technology in that instance is not being proposed in our scheme. Nevertheless, we take the risk of fire seriously and so we always keep this in mind at the design stage. In addition to the thermal probes inside the battery enclosures, our design includes infrared cameras on the lighting columns that would monitor the site 24/7 and alert the control room in case of a temperature anomaly. We are not aware of an issue with toxic gases and therefore we would appreciate the opportunity to clarify this matter with those concerned.
There are approximately 130 utility scale battery sites operating successfully in the UK, and many more thousands across the world. A very select few have had issues and battery technology is continually evolving to reduce this risk further. We can share a plethora of detail with those concerned so would appreciate the opportunity to meet with residents and we are always willing to engage and listen to the public’s views. Ultimately a development of this scale would not be insurable if the statements being issued by HRA were accurate. In addition, people would not have standalone BESS in their houses, cars, laptops or phones.
About BESS Technology
Technology of this type will only become more commonplace in our daily lives as we transition to a net-zero economy to try combat the effects of climate change. The ultimate requirement for battery storage stems from the need to balance the grid from the increased roll-out of renewables and to provide an indigenous back-up supply of power when the grid network needs it most.
Harmony is committed to building BESS without subsidy from the UK taxpayer and so it must be developed in the most viable way possible. This means close to a grid connection point. The combined roll-out of unsubsidised renewables and energy storage in the UK will help drive down consumer energy prices as we move away from fossil fuels which are readily tradable on volatile on global markets. The current energy crisis lays bare the issues of energy security. As cited by the UK Government, technologies like BESS, supporting the integration of more low-carbon power, heat and transport technologies, could save the UK energy system up to £40billion by 2050 (source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (14 July 2020) ‘Battery storage boost to power greener electricity grid’, Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/battery-storage-boost-to-power-greener-electricity-grid).
About Harmony Energy
Harmony Energy is a Yorkshire-based business which has created 25 highly-skilled jobs for its employees. Indirectly, we support many more hundreds of UK jobs through supply chains and contracting opportunities on our developments. Founded more than ten years ago, we have a track record of delivering projects by working closely with landowners, planning authorities and energy distribution network operators to develop renewable energy sites which deliver benefits for all.
This development alone would provide Wakefield City Council with over £150,000 per annum in business rates and we are proposing a £10,000 per annum community benefit fund to support local facilities and initiatives.
We consider the benefits of the scheme substantial and the long term benefits will surpass any of the shorter-term effects such as construction traffic or certain views before planting matures.