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    Approval granted for 500 megawatt British battery project

    Blaby District Council has given the green light to Exagen, a UK developer, for a grid-scale battery energy storage project with a capacity of 500MW/1GWh in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire. Named the Normanton Energy Reserve, this project, one of Europe’s largest, will support the UK’s National Grid. Following extensive public consultation, the Planning Committee’s approval includes plans for new habitats, extensive woodland, and a 25% increase in local biodiversity.


    Once constructed, the battery will have the ability to power 235,000 homes for two hours, equivalent to 80% of homes in Leicestershire, making it one of the largest Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) projects approved in the UK. Valued at £270 million, the site, about ten times larger than typical grid storage batteries, will connect directly to the energy network through a new substation, contributing to grid stability amid rising electricity demand.


    Exagen estimates that the UK will require up to 35GW of storage capacity by 2050 to achieve net-zero targets, with the Normanton Energy Reserve accounting for 1.4% of this national need. The project plays a crucial role in supporting the UK’s transition to net-zero by supplying locally generated energy in a safe and sustainable manner.


    The approved plans allocate 45% of the 19-acre site to enhance biodiversity, extending Normanton Millennium Wood and introducing new wildflower meadows, beekeeping areas, hedgerows, and perimeter tree planting. Exagen, taking ownership of the land, emphasizes a long-term commitment to the local community and site stewardship.


    Additionally, Exagen plans to establish a community fund for local improvements, building on its sponsorship of the Thurlaston Junior Football Club since June 2023. Construction commencement will provide £250,000 for local projects and groups, followed by an annual contribution of £50,000 throughout the project’s operational life, totaling around £4 million.


    Prior to the main construction phase, landscaping and planting activities will occur, allowing time for establishment and growth. Pre-construction efforts, including service and equipment procurement, aim to engage local businesses as partners, according to Exagen.


    Jeremy Littman, Exagen Development chief executive, said “For the UK to achieve its 2050 net zero target at the lowest possible cost, there needs to be an increase in electricity storage capacity to balance renewable energy generation. As more renewables are deployed, larger battery projects like Normanton will be required. It is vital that they are developed sensitively and in partnership with the local communities that host them.


    “We have been guided by our local stakeholders to achieve consent for a significant infrastructure project that is unobtrusive and balances national needs with local benefit. We will work now to deliver this project into operation in that same spirit of partnership, and as an active and useful member of the local community.”


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