Monarch explores the success of the Taunton Battery Energy Storage project, the challenge for councils pursuing net zero and what Monarch can do to help.
Leveraging the grid
The new Battery Energy Storage Site (BESS) in Taunton is a triumph of intelligent asset management. Already home to several of the UK’s solar farms, the Somerset town now has the means to store 30MW of clean energy until it is needed.
Since renewable energy sources cannot provide on-demand generation as reliably as their fossil fuel counterparts, battery storage is crucial for wind and solar projects to be economically viable – otherwise much of their output can go to waste.
This is especially true of solar energy since it can generally only be harvested during daylight hours. The power of effective storage is that even when demand is not high, any energy harvest can be stored until it is needed.
The Taunton project is already providing enough energy to power 30,000 local homes but the new battery storage means whatever isn’t being used immediately can be sold back to the National Grid, providing an extra source of income to the town.
The governing body responsible, South Somerset District Council (SSDC), is so pleased with their success that they have already begun planning for a second storage facility near Fareham in Hampshire.
The Fareham project is dreaming even bigger as well, with an intended capacity of 40MW, a 25% increase on the Taunton project.
A sign of the times
As the UK gets closer to its 2050 net zero deadline, projects like Taunton will start to become more commonplace. The presence of coalitions like the UK100, a group of local government leaders that have pledged to transition their communities to 100% renewable energy by 2050, will only hasten this process.
The Eden Project made news back in 2017 with its installation of 250KW worth of battery storage, a move designed to inspire other local communities to the possibilities of solar power.
After the challenges of 2020 however, the prospect of investment in high-tech renewable energy generation and storage may seem unrealistic to many local authorities, especially given the £6bn funding gap that the LGA (Local Government Association) predicts for local services by 2025. With that in mind, councils may wonder how they can contribute to net zero without breaking the bank.
Fortunately, the Prime Minister’s pledge of a £160m investment in offshore wind power yesterday, aiming to provide for all domestic energy needs by 2030, may provide the boost in confidence that councils are looking for.
As Johnson’s pledge demonstrates, large-scale infrastructure does require significant capital investment upfront and may not always be feasible. However, improving current operations is a more holistic process whose costs are gradual and manageable, showing consistent ROI as the improvements continue.
One category that often trips up large organisations is the micromanagement required to maximise the value gained from utilities usage and procurement.
Smart utility management
Monarch recognises that local councils may not have the resources to gain a total understanding and control of the management of their utilities. The payment process can be incredibly complex, often with dozens or hundreds of invoices to validate on a regular basis.
Monarch can simplify this process by putting it in the hands of our in-house validation experts. Each bill is subject to rigorous scrutiny, including a 47-point check, the sort that has saved our clients over £130 million to date.
In order to offer a complete service package, alongside improving the efficiency of managing your current usage, Monarch also provides a dynamic procurement service.
Effective leverage of energy markets requires resources that many councils may not have. Our Energy Analysts know that timing is everything in securing the most favourable fuel prices. Subject to your needs, they can combine multiple sites under a single contract bundle.