Sompting energy storage project downscaled with plans for future expansion

A multi-million pound energy storage project in Sompting has been downscaled for now, with the door left open for future expansion.

Back in 2019, West Sussex County Council agreed to spend £11.6million on a commercial battery storage scheme at the former North Sompting waste management site off Halewick Lane.

It will provide a secure location for large batteries that will store surplus energy and release it to the electricity grid when it is needed to power our homes and businesses.

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The batteries will connect to the grid and enable electricity supply and demand to be carefully balanced during the natural peaks and troughs in wind and solar energy production.

Top end of Halewick Lane (Photo from Google Maps Street View)

This would lead to expansion of green energy generation and also generate a revenue stream for the county council.

The original plan was for a 20megawatt installation, but the project has been revised to an initial 12MW ‘enabling the project to benefit from changes in technology in future years’.

Officers said the ‘residual export capacity on site will then remain an opportunity for the county council to further expand the site in later phases, pending a review of the site’s overall performance’.

They also noted how the initial business case was projected to benefit from £4.1million grant funding through the Innovate UK-led SmartHubs project, but this funding opportunity was later withdrawn.

An officers’ report said: “Following the completion of this 12 MW battery installation, surplus land (and the remaining secured grid capacity) on the site will be sufficient for a second phase. This second phase would be expected to replicate phase one with a commercial battery scheme of up to 12MW.

“Proposals will be developed following a review of the first phase and will be dependent on achieving demonstrable revenue against projections. These proposals will be subject to new business cases.

“By retaining the option of developing a subsequent phase of the project at a later stage WSCC could retain the option to take advantage of investing in newer, innovative technologies on the site.”

Work to install the cable to connect the batteries to the grid is expected to begin before June.

Deborah Urquhart, WSCC’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “With site demolition and preparation complete, I’m delighted that we can now look forward to a new and exciting phase for Halewick Lane.

“By using the site in this way, we are making efficient use of our existing resources and generating income while supporting the transition to clean energy in line with our Climate Change Strategy. Projects such as this also make an important, lasting contribution to our effort to reduce carbon emissions in West Sussex.”

The county council is currently procuring a contractor to complete the design work and build the site. Construction is expected to begin in the summer.