Kirsty Gordon, senior energy and renewables consultant at Bidwells says battery storage is on a positive trajectory as part of the renewable energy movement.

Developers across Scotland are scoping out new Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) projects, hoping to benefit from a growing need to harness electricity generated by renewables and help balance the grid.

The Scottish Farmer: Kirsty Gordon, Senior Energy & Renewables Consultant, Bidwells.Kirsty Gordon, Senior Energy & Renewables Consultant, Bidwells.

To combat the intermittent generation of sources such as wind and solar, BESS can be used to store energy for periods of high demand or low generation. As a result, there is a rise in the number of BESS projects in the pipeline and developers are approaching landowners with proposals for distribution and transmission-scale stand-alone BESS projects as well as co-locating them with other onshore wind or solar renewable energy projects.

This is an opportunity for landowners to benefit from an alternative source of income as developers are seeking land rights, typically lease agreements, to facilitate these new projects. Kirsty Gordon, Bidwells, who has experience with representing landowners in discussions commented: “If we are building more wind turbines and more solar farms, then we need more battery storage for the energy system to be effective.

"That said, there are also opportunities for landowners, particularly if they are within reasonable geographical reach of a substation or other grid connection point and are willing to explore the installation of a BESS on their land.

"Proximity to a grid connection drives the market, with better located sites attracting attention from more developers keen to secure key locations and the potential of better terms for the commercial agreement.

"There is certainly evidence of competitiveness with battery developers vying for the same areas of land,” said Kirsty who also highlighted the importance of selecting the right developer to work with.  

“There are so many players in the sector that, as a landowner, navigating your way to finding a reputable developer is important.

"The commercial terms, working relationship, and confidence in delivery are critical when considering a developer. This competition also means a potentially higher rent for landowners who are willing to lease their land for this type of energy development. Developers are offering stronger rents to obtain a land deal in the right location. Commercials offered can vary depending on the type of connection the developer is proposing and able to secure i.e. transmission or distribution.”

Grid connectivity constraints “The biggest constraint to any of these developments is the connectivity to the grid with some potential sites having low connection availability at substations and high costs for connection.

"Grid upgrade delays mean the timescales for connecting are being pushed out as far out as 2030 for some new projects,” continued Kirsty who said that the developer’s grid connection informs the MW size of the battery proposed as well as the area of land required for the battery.

She added: “A transmission scale project will have a larger MW capacity which being a bigger battery will take up more space. A distribution scale project perhaps with a smaller MW may not be quite as land intensive.

Kirsty comments. “This timescale, and cost of grid connection, increases the risk to the developer, but, if a landowner is keen to progress with BESS, then a watertight agreement that works for both parties will be essential."

Fully understanding any proposed land agreements and the implications on the land is essential when considering a BESS opportunity. It is important that overly-onerous restrictions are not placed upon the landowner.

Next steps According to the consultant, the first step for any landowner, whether approaching or responding to an enquiry from a developer, is to speak with an energy and renewables property expert to open up those conversations. The farmer or landowner will benefit from their experience of the market, comparable evidence, and their understanding of the bigger picture in terms of the wider land use, access, obligations, and aspirations for your landholding.

Appropriate advice can then be given for the best proposal. Kirsty added: "Every project is different and we take care to understand what our clients want when negotiating on their behalf in this market. BESS is a step in the right direction to help deliver our renewable-generated power and contribute to sustaining green sources of energy.”