Peak power for Cambridgeshire
In an ambitious move to increase revenue from its land assets, Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) sought specialist consultancy support for assessing a site and technology option for a peaking power generation or battery storage system. CCC lacked market experience, but it had developed renewable energy schemes including a 10-MW solar photovoltaic scheme.
CCC selected ADAS, an RSK company, to complete the multifaceted contract. It referenced our GIS mapping expertise, track record in supporting developers of renewable energy schemes and our advanced experience of working with agricultural landowners on projects that diversify income and develop businesses. We secured the contract against 17 rival consultancies.
Protecting front-line services
The project aimed to identify sites that could be developed to generate additional income, thereby protecting front-line services. The council nominated 204 sites, ranging from large farm estates to educational centres in urban areas. ADAS specialists assessed the potential for peaking power generation and energy storage projects. Specifically, our methodology included using GIS software to screen sites for environmental, planning and development constraints; assessing network viability through network analysis and discussing findings with the network operator; reviewing relevant planning policies; and visiting the selected sites for detailed assessments.
Several technology options and scales were considered along with different electricity grid connection options. For each option, a financial model provided CCC with a breakdown that included capital expenditure, revenues and operation and maintenance costs. We provided detailed summaries of technologies, markets and revenue risks. Finally, we reviewed national and local planning policies and assessed similar applications that the relevant planning authorities had already considered.
The right site for CCC
After completing our scope of work, we identified four potential sites (three farm sites and one urban) and created project proposals ranging in scale from 1 to 40 MW to suit these sites. These included stand-alone projects providing services to ancillary markets and projects that used on-site renewable generation to generate savings on existing consumption and income from energy storage markets.
We recommended energy storage rather than peaking power projects for further investigation, which reflected a market that favours using batteries to store energy already generated rather than using fossil fuels to generate energy on demand. The report recommended a joint venture between CCC and a private-sector specialist to maximise the financial benefits while mitigating some of the risks associated with an emerging market. CCC is reviewing our report and planning how best to proceed.