Regulators in the UK have given the go-ahead for renewable energy developer Ørsted to build a utility-scale battery energy storage project to serve the Hornsea 3 offshore wind farm.
The South Norfolk Council—the planning authority for the region—on Jan. 11 unanimously approved the storage facility, which will feature lithium-ion battery technology and be built on a 35-acre site alongside Hornsea 3’s onshore substation at Swardeston, south of Norwich in eastern England.
Energy from the storage project will be fed into the UK’s national power grid as needed, according to local officials. Hornsea 3 is a 2.4-GW installation being built in the North Sea.
Ørsted in a statement after Wednesday’s council vote said, “As the UK shifts away from fossil fuels, the way we consume and generate electricity is rapidly changing. In the transition to clean energy, storage is a key component of a smarter, more flexible energy system. With planning permission now in place, we will continue to work alongside local stakeholders and our chosen suppliers to finalize designs.”
Ørsted has not given details about the storage capacity of the project, which regulators approved despite concerns from local residents after potential fire hazards at the site. An Ørsted spokesperson in a statement said, “It is not in anyone’s interest, least of all the applicants, for there to be an incident at this site. We have worked closely with the [Norfolk] fire and rescue service and have incorporated the measures that were raised through those discussions.”
Clayton Hudson, among the councillors who approved the project, told the local Eastern Daily Press: “The race to decarbonize our economy and the long-term security of energy supply is paramount. I will not be responsible for turning off the lights in south Norfolk or delaying the decarbonization of our economy.”
The Hornsea 3 project was approved in late 2020, joining previous Ørsted projects Hornsea 1 and Hornsea 2 in the North Sea. The 1.2-GW Hornsea 1 was the first offshore wind farm with more than 1 GW of generation capacity when it entered commercial operation in 2019.
Hornsea 2, which began operating last summer, has more than 1.3 GW of generation capacity.
Hornsea 3 would be among the first major offshore wind projects to be supported with battery energy storage. Ørsted does have a 2-MW battery system pilot project attached to the group’s Burbo Bank offshore wind farm in northwest England.
The UK wants to deploy as much as 50 GW of offshore wind energy by the end of this decade, which would be about four times its current offshore generation capacity. Another major project, the Dogger Bank Wind Farm off the UK’s northeast coast, will have 3.6 GW of generation capacity when all three of its phases are complete. Dogger Bank is being built by joint venture partners SSE Renewables, Equinor, and Vårgrønn.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).