Bid to build a huge battery in small village to store renewable energy

The substation owned by the National Grid on the A140. Picture: Marc Betts

A massive battery has been proposed for Stoke Lane, near the substation owned by the National Grid on the A140. - Credit: Archant

A bid to build a massive battery in the South Norfolk countryside to store power generated by the region's solar panels and wind farms has been submitted to planners.

The facility, just off the A140 next to Dunston Hall, will include around 30 battery packs, 2.2m in height, across the 5.1 acre site.

It is 2.5 times larger than a  £25m, 49.9MW battery facility being developed next to a nearby substation on Ipswich Road.

The new site, on Stoke Lane, in Dunston, around three miles south of Norwich, would house a 130Mw system to store energy produced by wind and solar farms at times of low demand, so that it can be fed into the National Grid at times of higher demand.

The latest scheme has been put forward by FPC Electric Land Ltd, which says it is a vital piece of infrastructure to help Britain as it becomes more reliant on renewable energy.

Low carbon energy sources like solar and wind farms are more intermittent and inflexible than traditional fossil-fuelled power stations, creating the need for batteries to help manage the supply.

A planning statement submitted to South Norfolk Council (SNC) said: "As well as making sure the system is stable on a day-to-day basis, the UK needs the assurance over the course of each year that there is enough generation capacity to satisfy even exceptional periods of demand (known as ‘stress events’) or to back-up renewables when the wind does not blow, or the sun is not shining.” 

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A wind farm off the Norfolk coast - Credit: IAN BURT

The site is directly next to Dunston Hall's golf club, but the statement said the development would not have an adverse noise or visual impact and would be on a site surrounded by trees on three sides.

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The developers acknowledged there are "a large number of heritage assets" nearby, but said these are limited to "cropmarks, find spots and similar" and it is likely that further investigation is required.

No public comments have yet been submitted on the application and the Stoke Holy Cross ward councillor Nigel Legg said it was difficult to comment on the application without further information.

He said: "There is no information in this application to indicate what type of batteries are proposed, the technology involved or whether an environmental impact assessment is indicated."

Several solar farms are currently planned for the surrounding area. Last week concerns were raised about the number of such developments being built in the area.

In addition to a 74-acre solar farm approved for Hethel last Wednesday, similar installations are proposed in Swainsthorpe and Bracon Ash.

Cassie Cox from a Bracon Ash residents' group told last Wednesday's development committee she was worried about the combined impact of the different projects.