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300MW battery storage plan unveiled by SAE Renewables for site near Mey in Caithness

By Philip Murray

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An artist's impression of the view west to wards the new battery storage plant before tree screening planting has been introduced.
An artist's impression of the view west to wards the new battery storage plant before tree screening planting has been introduced.

Plans for a major 300MW battery storage plant in Caithness capable of providing hours of energy to the grid have lodged with the Scottish Government.

SAE has announced it is seeking permission for a battery energy storage system (or BESS) half-a-kilometre south of Mey, and located on a 10.7-hectare site next to the already approved 132kV Gills Bay substation.

Under the plans the new battery storage site would be partly sandwiched between the Gills Bay substation to the south-east and a conifer plantation woodland to the north-west. The battery plant would also extend north and eastwards beyond the woodland and up to the roadside that borders the tree plantation.

New planting is proposed on the battery plants north and north-eastern boundaries to shield the remainder of the site from the nearby A836 and Mey.

The project is connected to SAE’s MeyGen tidal project, which sits 5.5km to the north-east of the battery plant.

SAE said it had “secured all the necessary land rights and 287MW of both import and export grid capacity to allow for the BESS project to be built”.

It added that the grid capacity would be shared between Mey BESS and the company’s MeyGen tidal array, with 207MW being utilised exclusively for BESS and the balance of 80MW secured for the expansion of the MeyGen tidal stream project.

The consent application is sized at 300MW to allow for further expansion from 207MW to 300MW which would be subject to future grid applications.

The grid connection and all infrastructure is ready to be built, with an anticipated completion of April 2027.

Once operational the Mey BESS would initially use two-hour duration batteries to give an output capacity of 414MWh, with the site layout sized in the planning application to allow for expansion using four-hour duration batteries of up to 300MW/1.2GWh.

In a supporting statement, MeyGen said the battery plant was needed to build resilience into the electrical grid.

“Scottish and UK energy policy requires the delivery of energy storage and recognises it as an essential component of balancing a national electricity grid reliant on intermittent renewable energy sources,” it said. “Without such infrastructure, the imbalance of supply and demand could significantly undermine net zero efforts and jeopardise security of electricity supply.”

They added that government policies recognised the “importance of electricity storage developments exceeding 50MW as contributing significantly to the low carbon transition”.

They continued: “[It] is recognition of the national significance of the proposed development and its contribution towards the Scottish Government’s wider policy aspirations.”

The development rights in the project are held by Mey Energy Storage Limited, which is owned 84 per cent by SAE and 16 per cent by Scottish Enterprise.

SAE’s dedicated project page for the BESS will be available at www.saerenewables.com/mey-BESS

SAE has also put a copy of the application, more details about the proposals, and its planned layout, in Wick Library. It is open to public inspection for free.

The application can also be viewed at www.energyconsents.scot and saerenewables.com/mey-bess.

Public comment and representations are open until July 29 at Scottish Government, Energy Consents Unit mailbox at representations@gov.scot.

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