PLANS to bring a long-empty section of the Uskmouth B Power Station in Newport back to life are set to be submitted, documents show.

Last week Newport City Council’s planning department determined that plans to build a major battery energy storage facility at the dormant power plant site would not need an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

This paves the way for a full planning application to be carried out, which would see a major renewable energy project rolled out at the coal-fired station site.

Technically still operational, Uskmouth B has not actually been used to generate electricity since April 2017, and the new plans look to convert its former coal stockyard.

If approved, a 230 MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) would be installed here instead – which would be connected to the National Grid.

South Wales Argus: Uskmouth B Power Station, where the BESS would be locatedUskmouth B Power Station, where the BESS would be located

Simply put, these battery units would take electricity from the National Grid during periods of low demand, and store it.

Then, during periods of high electricity demand, the facility would be able to return the electricity back into the system to meet that demand.

According to documents submitted as part of the initial EIA process, “Effective energy storage will allow significant increases in intermittent renewable generation from wind and solar onto the UK electricity system by allowing the balance of supply and demand.”

This document also stresses that the The Uskmouth BESS project is completely independent of the Uskmouth Conversion Project – the controversial project which would see electricity generated from waste-derived fuel pellets.

What benefit could these plans have?

On the surface, replacing a coal yard with a battery storage system appears to be a net gain for the environment.

There is some thought that it could be viewed favourably as it would support the Welsh Government’s goals of transitioning to a “lower carbon electricity system”, by increasing the level of intermittent generation on the UK electricity system, storing electrical energy when output is higher than demand and discharging energy when demand outstrips supply.

South Wales Argus: An example of what a BESS site looks likeAn example of what a BESS site looks like

Since July 2021, battery storage schemes of over 50MW were taken out of the national infrastructure consenting scheme, with decision-making redirected to local planning authorities.

This change took place to allow for large-scale battery storage projects to be developed faster, and with fewer up-front development costs.

What about any local disruption?

Unlike the coal plant of old, plans to turn part of the site into the BESS would not see large plumes of thick smoke high in the sky.

But, that is not to say that there wouldn’t be disruption – especially during the 12 months of construction needed to install 64 battery storage units, and the necessary equipment needed to keep the site safe and operational.

During this time, it is estimated that there would be approximately 4,720 HGV movements to and from the site.

But, once construction is finished, it is understood that there would be minimal traffic to the site – mainly for maintenance and security purposes.

While it is estimated that this could cause some disruption, it is also noted that the access roads were designed for a heavier flow of traffic to Uskmouth B, and as such, the disruption during construction would not be worse than what was seen during the power station’s operational years.

A full traffic impact statement would be submitted along with the full planning application, the documents indicate.

What has been said about these plans?

It is understood that these plans have been brought forward by Simec Atlantis Energy (SAE) – the operators of Uskmouth B.

Graham Reid, chief executive sfficer of SAE said: “The team and I are tremendously excited about this next step for the Uskmouth site, which will help deliver the UK’s net zero targets, release important value for the business and allow the team to build on the lessons learnt to help countries around the world to achieve the targets of reducing reliance on coal, increasing energy security, and finding long term solutions to the growing waste problem.”