An 18-foot-high battery storage power station could soon be built on green belt land in Bishop’s Stortford, if recently submitted plans are approved by East Herts Council.
The plans would see four large grain silos at Wickham Hall Farm demolished to make way for the power station, which would remain in place for a period of 25 years.
Surplus electricity would be stored at the 10MWh plant and released onto the National Grid at peak times, preventing local power cuts.
According to the plans, the storage plant would consist of four separate battery containers which would measure over two and a half metres wide and 12.3 metres long.
They would stand at almost five and a half metres high and would be surrounded by a 2.5 metre-high fence.
A report produced by energy consultancy firm Eco-Economix as part of the application argues that battery storage facilities will play an “important part” in keeping the energy supply constant as the UK transitions towards temperamental renewable energy sources.
They state: “Bishop’s Stortford has a population of 38,000 people, 15,000 homes and many businesses.
“When an advert interrupts a popular evening TV programme or half-time in a football match, and 3,000 Kettles are switched on, this adds over 9MW to the already stretched electricity network — but for no more than five minutes.
“A 10MW battery system will completely smooth out that 9MW spike, which is the scenario that can cause a power cut to a section of the local electric grid.”
Due to competition rules, the National Grid is not allowed to own or operate storage facilities itself.
It does however offer financial rewards for businesses and individuals that can automatically transfer energy to and from the Grid when they detect fluctuations — earning themselves thousands in the process.
However, concerns have been raised about the potential for noise pollution at the site, given the need for cooling fans and other plant equipment that may potentially operate both night and day.
An East Herts District Council environmental health officer has recommended that permission be refused, arguing that the applicant “has not demonstrated that any consideration has been given to the potential noise impacts from the scheme”.
They also stated that nearby homes and businesses, including the Rosey Lea cafe, could be “adversely affected” if the noise level was too high.
Ben Lewis, the director of Replan Consulting — which submitted the application on behalf of Wickham Hall Farm owner David Harvey — said a noise impact assessment would now be completed as part of the planning application and submitted next week.
He also stated that there were “no doubts about the noise associated” with the scheme, and that the assessment was “expected to provide assurances for the avoidance of doubt”.
The owner of Rosey Lea said they were unaware of the plans when approached.
Replan has also argued that the project would not adversely affect the green belt.
The company said: “In the circumstances, although the proposal technically has the potential to impact on nearby heritage assets, the nature of the scheme when taken in context can be considered to have a neutral effect at worst, or a positive effect by virtue of of the replacement of the existing large silos which are substantially more obtrusive.
“The social, environmental and economic benefits of this proposal represent ‘very special circumstances’ that justifies the location or the plant within the green belt.”
Mr Lewis added: “Battery storage of electricity enables the abundant energy generated from renewables in the UK to be stored.
“This stored energy can then be used when otherwise the National Grid would have to be burning coal and gas to generate electricity from conventionally dirty power stations.
“This will massively reduce the CO2 emissions created.
“The facility will store energy from the Grid and release it during periods of peak demand so as to prevent shortages in the supply of electricity to the community.
“This enables local people and businesses to benefit from an uninterrupted supply of energy.”