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Is energy storage the next farm diversification opportunity?

energy storage farmAfter a period of setbacks and uncertainty, the energy storage industry is on the cusp of major growth – with farmers leading the way. Katie Kozlowska, head of the energy and utilities team at Harrison Drury, examines the opportunities.

The energy storage sector is finally demonstrating its enormous potential as a profitable farm diversification option.

More than 3,000 farmers and landowners attended the recent Energy Now Expo, where they were told that 2016 is expected to prove a breakthrough year for energy storage technologies.

Farmers can finally expect to reap what they have sown

More and more farmers who previously developed solar farms are now turning to large battery storage facilities.

These are becoming known as ‘energy barns’ – locations where energy can be stored on farms and exported to the grid, which will pay significant returns for providing storage services.

Change in fortune is not before time

Renewable energy has suffered more than its fair share of setbacks, especially following the government’s announcement that subsidies are to be radically reduced.

However, the tide seems to be turning in the sector’s favour and storage was considered such an important topic that Energy Now devoted an entire session to it.

Just as significantly, Stephen Jones of The Energy Storage Network says he is convinced the technology is in place for storage to offer massive opportunities across all types of renewable energy.

UK officials are working to clarify issues around energy storage

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is working closely with regulator Ofgem to clarify the definition of energy storage. This will see significant progress in May, when a consultation is expected, with findings published in the autumn.

The authorities are examining the potential for renewable energy to be linked directly to network energy storage. With more than 200MWh installed globally, such measures are becoming increasingly essential in countries where demand is rising rapidly.

The legal considerations for farmers considering energy storage

Farmers and other landowners considering diversifying into energy generation and energy storage need to ensure their interests are fully protected.

While energy storage does present a potential opportunity to generate income, there are a host of property, planning law, regulatory and compliance, procurement and contractual issues that need to be considered to ensure any risks are being fully mitigated.

Katie Kozlowska heads up Harrison Drury’s specialist team of energy lawyers, advising businesses on a wide range of energy and environmental matters, such as renewable technologies and sustainable energy generation.

For further advice on the legal considerations surrounding energy storage, call Katie on 01772 258321.

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