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Energy parks: A joined-up solution for renewables

Integrated renewable-energy parks incorporating different technologies are the future.

Mike Reid reports. 

Scottish Power’s announcement of plans to connect an industrial-scale 50MW lithium-ion battery storage facility to Whitelee Wind Farm to obtain more power from the 215-turbine site is one of the most ambitious energy storage projects in Europe. 

The combination of different renewable technologies and battery storage, creating energy parks, looks to be the future for efficient renewable energy generation to fully utilise the available grid connection. 

We are seeing developers looking to combine energy production from wind power, hydro power and solar power with integrated battery storage and, in some instances, supplemented by gas generators to create renewable energy parks, but efficient, affordable battery storage is the key to being able to maximise renewable energy from any site.

The US energy storage market doubled in 2018 and it is expected to double again in 2019. Improvements in battery storage efficiency and reductions in costs have helped to accelerate deployment, but the UK market is only at an early stage of development. 

Integrated renewable energy solutions that incorporate different technologies should be part of the future. 

‘Sleeved’ power purchase agreements, in which a utility acts as an intermediary, distributing the energy produced to local businesses, topping up any shortage and handling payments, are a further potential advantage. 

The challenge is finding suitable locations with the potential to host these renewable energy parks as it is sometimes difficult combining renewable technologies. 

However, the technological advances being made in renewables such as solar power are opening up potential deployment in areas previously thought unviable. 

Historically, grid connections were seen as expensive and potentially a restriction on development, but this cost has probably been partly helped responsible for the drive to develop renewable energy parks in Scotland.