Battery storage is a great asset for renewable energy generation; don’t forget to check the noise
To achieve global net zero targets, the traditional energy system is undergoing major transformation to a smarter system, dominated by decarbonised, decentralised, and digitised resources.
In line with this, a primary driver for SLR currently is to provide sustainable solutions within key sectors, including power. The current energy transition is focused on decarbonising the energy sector at global level; reducing carbon emissions and ensuring climate stabilisation by moving from fossil based to zero-carbon fuel sources by the second half of this century.
In the UK for example, in order to meet the carbon neutrality targets set by the Government, the proportion of energy generated by sustainable sources will need to increase immensely over a surprisingly short time scale. Enabling this, there are many proven generation technologies for a sustainable low carbon electricity system, including wind, hydro, solar, and bioenergy, and these renewable energy sources will become cheaper to deploy than coal and gas in most regions by 2030.
The two key technologies that have been generating an increasing share of the electricity mix within the UK over the last decade are wind and solar. These assets tend to be sited in areas where land and natural resources are abundant; however, they tend to be at the fringes of distribution grid networks and remote from demand centres. Due to the intermittent and variable nature of the fuel sources, renewable energy stresses current delivery management systems as they create volatility in the network.
However, significant advances in battery technology have greatly increased the feasibility of storing energy to support grid balancing without the need for large geological features, as is the case with pumped hydroelectric storage. Battery storage located in close proximity to demand centres can reduce losses of energy moving through the energy grid compared to a pumped hydroelectric storage solution. A National Grid report states that “about 1.7% of the electricity transferred over the transmission network is lost, and a further 5-8% is lost over the distribution networks”; so reducing the transportation of energy through our National Grid using local storage of sustainably generated energy will maximise the efficiency of the grid.
An important consideration in the development of battery energy storage solutions is the potential for noise impact from the facility. While not an obvious potential impact, the necessity for ensuring the batteries stay within a suitable temperature window requires cooling fans, and a transformer unit will be required to integrate the storage into the larger grid, both of which will emit noise.
The introduction of equipment that emits noise will necessitate the consideration of how this may impact any noise sensitive receptors in the vicinity. Typically, a noise impact assessment using British Standard 4142: Methods for rating and assessing industrial and commercial sound is undertaken, which provides an indication of whether the proposed development will have any negative impact on nearby sensitive receptors.
As a multidisciplinary consultancy, SLR is ideally placed to assist with battery storage developments, as we have a thorough understanding of the power and energy sectors, along with vast experience of providing high-quality, robust noise impact assessments through our on-site measurements, close working with environmental health authorities, and noise modelling capabilities.
 Transmission losses, National Grid ESO, June 2019. https://www.nationalgrideso.com/document/144711/download