An increasing number of solar developers are now also developing storage projects, and several “pure-play” storage developers have launched. For a landowner, this offers an exciting new way to make money from your land. Here are some common questions and answers.
What is an Energy Storage Project?
An energy storage project is a cluster of battery banks (or modules) that are connected to the electrical grid. These battery banks are roughly the same size as a shipping container. These are also called Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS), or grid-scale/utility-scale energy storage or battery storage systems.
Some installations use technologies other than batteries to store energy, but batteries are the most common technology.
How does a BESS work?
The operator of a BESS buys electricity from the grid when it is relatively inexpensive and stores it in (charges) the batteries. Then, when the cost of electricity is relatively high, or when power generation capacity is low due to inclement weather or other causes, the operator discharges the batteries, selling the stored energy at a profit.
For example, electricity tends to be less expensive at night, when temperatures are cooler and demand for electricity is lower. On a blazing hot Texas afternoon in the summer when everyone is running their air conditioner, electricity is in high demand and thus relatively expensive. All else equal, a BSS operator would charge the batteries at night and sell the electricity in the afternoon.
What makes a property good for a storage project?
As with a solar farm, the land a BESS project is built on must be relatively flat, not be in a wetland, and must be accessible from a road for construction and maintenance purposes. Unlike a typical solar farm, a BESS project can usually be built in a floodplain because the batteries can be installed on something resembling stilts.
The critical difference is that a BESS project must be within half a mile of a substation. A solar farm can generally be within a mile or two of a substation or a transmission line.
How are BESS projects better than solar farms for landowners?
One advantage of a storage project on your land versus a solar farm is that it requires far less acreage. How many modules would be installed at any one site depends on several technical and economic factors, but in general, most storage projects require 20 or fewer acres, and small projects only require one or two acres. This means that even if you don’t have dozens or even hundreds of acres necessary for a solar farm, there’s still a possibility that a storage project could work on your property.
In addition, while solar farms are only located in rural areas, a storage project could be in an urban area, where parcels are smaller and substations are more numerous. A storage project could even be built on an existing foundation, such as a vacant parking lot.
How do I know if my land qualifies for a BESS?
The most important issue is whether there is a substation on or near your property. If so, and if you have at least five acres of flat land that are not in a floodplain, your property might work! Fill out this form to tell us about your property and we’ll take a look!