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SSE Renewables gets green light for 320 MW BESS, one of UK’s biggest battery projects

SSE Renewables' Monk Fryston battery will be located next to the UK National Grid's Monk Fryston station. (Image for Representational Purpose) Image: SSE Renewables

SSE Renewables, the green arm of energy developer SSE, has received the green signal to develop one of UK's largest battery energy storage systems (BESS) projects.

The company said construction will begin soon on the grid-scale 320 MW/ 640 MWh battery in Monk Fryston, Yorkshire and the project would be operational in 2026. This would be SSE Renewables' third BESS project, joining the 50 MW Salisbury and 150 MW Ferrybridge projects, and the largest by capacity. The company also runs a 30 MW solar farm in Littleton, Worcestershire.

"Taking a Final Investment Decision on our Monk Fryston project is another very exciting milestone for SSE Renewables and our solar and battery business, which now has four projects in delivery amounting to over half a gigawatt of new solar and battery capacity," SSE Renewables' Director of Onshore Renewables Finlay McCutcheon said in a statement. "We are continuing to take action at real pace to rapidly scale up both our installed renewable energy capacity and the associated large scale energy storage needed to support it, as is demonstrated by our diverse portfolio of projects across onshore and offshore wind, hydro and of course solar and battery."

SSE Renewables has said that its battery will be located next to the UK National Grid's substation in Monk Fryston, and the company plans to directly connect the project to the country's existing transmission network. This will remove the need for additional grid infrastructure and minimizing construction impact on the surrounding environment, the company said.

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The Monk Fryston battery will be capable of operating for up to two hours a day, allowing the UK electricity network to better balance demand and supply gaps that can occur due to the intermittency inherent in renewable energy generation. Solar projects are only active during the day, with generation highest during the noon and afternoon hours when the sun is at its peak. Wind energy too is largely generated during the day when the sun's heat creates air currents. This necessitates BESS projects to store energy since the highest electricity demand comes at evening and night.

The UK plans to decarbonize its electricity system by 2035 by increasing the share of renewable energy generation in the country's energy mix.

SSE Renewables has a pipeline of 1.2 GW of solar and battery projects, with a further 1.3 GW under development. Among the upcoming projects is another 150 MW BESS site in the premises that once housed SSE's coal-power station at Fiddler's Ferry, Warrington. Although the project has been consented, a final investment decision is yet to be made. If approved, construction for the Fiddler's Ferry battery could start as early as next year.

The company says it also owns nearly 2 GW of operational onshore wind capacity with over 1 GW under development. Its other assets include 1,459 MW of hydropower capacity, including 300 MW of pumped storage and 750 MW of flexible hydro.

The company also owns 579 MW of operational offshore wind capacity across three offshore sites in UK waters, two of which are operated on behalf of the projects' joint venture partners. 

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