NEW: Proposal to develop a battery-based energy storage system near to the substation on Weir's Drove, Burwell.
What's different about this application and what does it mean for us?
BESS is an abbreviation of battery-based energy storage system. Like STOR, it is a system to ensure a constant supply of power to the National Grid despite the intermittant nature of power generation from renewable energy such as solar or wind. However, unlike fossil-fuel powered generators, these battery systems take power from the grid when there is excess, store it in batteries and then feed it back when there is peak demand.
The system will be the largest in UK currently, at just less than 50 MW. This is the size required to connect to the 132 kV power grid. The system will be used for grid balancing of load (frequency balancing), in the future it may change to peak shaving.
The draft plans for the battery development have been sent to RADE Burwell. These have not yet been submitted to East Cambs, but we will link to them here once an official planning application has been made.
There are few sites in UK where the substations have the required capacity to feed power into and out of the grid. The Burwell substation has this capacity and the National Grid needs systems like these to manage the fluctuating supply of renewables.
Because of the capacity of our substation, it is likely that there will be continued applications for systems that feed power back into the grid when demand is high, whether through fossil-fuel generators or battery storage.
At our meeting with Aura on 24 November 2017, RADE Burwell raised the following concerns about the new development
Residents on Low Road already suffer from electrical hum from the substation, partially on wet days. We are keen that the noise level not increase noticeably, or ideally reduce for those residents.
Aura agreed to work to lower noise thresholds than those normally expected for planning, they also agreed to add a noise barrier to their plans, and work is underway by Aura to see if the existing substation can be have a noise barrier added, so overall noise is lower than before for residents. Aura will pay for this if they can reach an agreement with neighbouring land owners. They will be sharing their draft noise report so we can check it over.
RADE Burwell have asked if Aura could add a strip around the edge of the river wildlife, and a 5 m strip for meadow grassland, with native bushes/trees behind. They have now added a 8m wide strip to their plans. Hopefully this will mean a significant improvement in biodiversity of this site for wildlife.
Aura will use an earth barrier around site rather than concreate and the units will use feet-type foundations at six points points, which should minimise the amount of concrete required.
Fire risk of lithium batteries
The proposed units are of lower power density than the lithium batteries that have been known to overheat and explode, and so this should not be an issue. Aura also explained that the batteries will have live monitoring so that bad cells can be taken offline. Should they catch fire the container vents will seal and halon gas extinuishers will be triggered.
At this point in time the RADE Burwell group is, in principle, in support of this application. Aura seem very keen to listen to the villagers and to RADE Burwell to make sure that our concerns are addressed. We also believe that this development may be our best defence against potential future diesel or gas generators being built to feed into the substation as the battery system will lock up most of the excess substation capacity.
We will continue to scrutinise the plans and ensure that the concerns of Burwell residents are taken into account and that the best interests of our village are served.