Renewable energy developers will be interested to hear about the progress being made in the United States on battery storage as more and more developers are seeking to add battery storage to their portfolio of ground mounted and rooftop mounted solar projects and wind farms. And while the UK Government has in the latest Budget committed to allocating £50 million for innovation in energy storage, demand-side response and other smart technologies between now and 2021, key challenges remain on the ground; the legal environment being one of them.
For developers seeking to add battery storage to existing projects, a detailed review of the legal agreement (usually a lease) in place in respect of the development is key. The uses permitted under the lease may not afford for the installation of batteries on the site or may impose restrictions as to the type and size of the same. Landlords will have particular concerns regarding the potential environmental impact of these installations and such concerns will need to be addressed in a way that is satisfactory to both the landlord and any potential funder of the project. The lease may also be quite prescriptive regarding new planning applications. And these are only few of the site specific issues that a developer considering battery storage installations has to grapple with.
However there is a general consensus in the industry that the benefits that could accrue from such an installation for both the developer and the offtaker (whether this is a large energy user or a homeowner) far outweigh the burdens – legal or not.
A US government agency says it has attained the “holy grail” of energy – the next-generation system of battery storage, that has has been hotly pursued by the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (Arpa-E) – a branch of the Department of Energy – says it achieved its breakthrough technology in seven years. Ellen Williams, Arpa-E’s director, said: “I think we have reached some holy grails in batteries – just in the sense of demonstrating that we can create a totally new approach to battery technology, make it work, make it commercially viable, and get it out there to let it do its thing,”