Discussing legal considerations for storage developments at the Electricity Storage Association’s (ESN) March conference in London, Maria Connelly, a partner TLT LLP, compared the interest in mixed technology projects featuring electric car chargers to a ‘land grab’.
Connelly, who heads the firm’s energy and renewables practice, says there is lots of interest among developers, investors and debt lenders, in projects featuring solar PV carports connected to battery storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
“That multi-technology play is an attractive proposition because of the combination of on-site generation for charging and with the battery to resolve peak demand issue, and provision of ancillary grid services,” according to Connelly.
Gridchangeagent caught up with Connelly post-event to discuss these types of projects in more detail. “With the 2040 ban on new petrol/diesel engine car sales, but particularly the EV predictions we are seeing to 2030, there is now a real push for much more EV charging infrastructure,” she says.
Public and private tie-ups
For an enterprise that has the space – and more importantly the land rights – hosting a solar PV carport-storage-EV charging asset can potentially maximise revenue streams.
An additional driver for including a battery can be the cost of an upgraded grid connection, if there is no room on the local low voltage (LV) network, which can cost significant sums to upgrade and may take many months to obtain.
“We know there is going to be demand for public charging EV infrastructure and there is a role for the public sector to do something.
But it is a hard ask to expect local councils, for example, to invest capital in these types of projects. So we could expect to see private sector partnering to bring in the capital to get these projects developed,” Connelly says.
Co-locating batteries with renewable assets
The other types of projects that are attracting interest are co-locating energy storage with existing wind, hydro and solar plants. There are some sites with enough spare grid capacity for installing a battery, which takes out a chunk of development cost.
It is more straightforward if the owner of the existing generation asset is the one also developing the battery project. “Otherwise, for example, if there is any outstanding debt on the renewable energy asset then the bank or banks will need to provide consent,” Connelly says.
There also needs to be a structure in place so that the output from the renewable generation asset, which receives subsidised payments, is not mixing with power imported from the grid to charge the battery. “There are challenges, but they are all entirely workable, even for projects where the battery developer does not own the renewable energy asset where there is a co-location opportunity,” she says.