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Energy storage facility could be set up in Caithness at site near Thurso

By Gordon Calder

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A major energy storage facility could be set up in Caithness if a planning application under consideration by Highland Council gets the go-ahead.

Whirlwind Energy Storage Ltd, the company behind the initiative, wants to site the development on farm land south of Stainland, near Thurso, and says such facilities are expected to be “commonplace within the next 10 years”.

The scheme would comprise up to 50 battery energy storage units, associated transformers and a switch/electrical control building, landscaping and fencing. The units would be based on 40ft steel shipping containers, with access to the site being from the A9.

Energy storage system would comprise 25 pairs of battery units
Energy storage system would comprise 25 pairs of battery units

The company, which has its registered offices in West Yorkshire, says the Stainland Energy Storage Project would provide “rapid response back-up to the electricity grid of a type which is seeing significant deployment in the USA, Australia and other parts of the world”.

Employment opportunities would be created through the construction, operation and maintenance phases of the development. It would not generate electrical power but draw it from the grid, store it and release it back as required, according to Whirlwind.

A report submitted to the local authority states that the containerised energy storage system would be installed as 25 paired units and be surrounded by bunding and landscaping consisting of native trees with an inner wood-faced acoustic fence. Deer fencing would be installed, if necessary, it is stated.

It says: “The function of the project will be to provide an electrical energy storage facility, contributing to the Scottish Government’s strategy to decarbonise and safeguard the electrical supply.

“Within the next 10 years, energy storage facilities are expected to be commonplace and will form an integral part of the electrical grid’s provision and maintenance of a stable and reliable electrical supply within the UK.

“The proposed energy storage scheme would be connected to the Thurso South grid supply point, 0.85 kilometres to the south-west of the site.”

A spokesman for Whirlwind Energy Storage Ltd said: “We are reacting to the national need for energy storage in the UK. Where there are suitable sites with sufficient grid capacity, we will seek to install grid scale batteries to balance and maximise the abundant renewable energy generated in Scotland.

“Such developments serve to reduce our use of gas generation and increase both energy security and the resilience of the energy sector.”

The company points out that it has consulted with Castletown and District Community Council, local ward councillors, the local MSP and MP and held an online consultation in January.

Two individuals took part and neither expressed any “significant concerns” about the proposal following design modifications, says the report.

The proposed site lies 410 metres to the east of the A9 and is near Upper Geislittle Farm and Weydale Moss.

The units are expected to have an operating life of up to 50 years, after which they would “be removed and the site cleared and returned to agricultural land or another appropriate use.” The application was received by Highland Council last month and is said to be “under consideration”.

Battery storage facilities for wind farms are on the increase. As reported last week, a wind farm and battery storage facility near Watten is being planned by EDF Renewables at a site approximately three kilometres to the southwest of the village.

The project would have up to eight turbines with a total generating capacity of up to 52 megawatts. A battery storage unit is included as part of the proposal.

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