Foresight doubles up on UK storage with 10MW buy

The move comes as the government announces a research and investment programme that will inject £246m into the country’s battery storage market.

UK-based investment manager Foresight Group has secured its second battery storage investment with the acquisition of a 10MW facility in England.

The firm has sealed a deal to buy the Nevendon project from its developers Aura Power and Gridserve and the system is set to be commissioned in Q1 next year. Foresight declined to disclose the size of the deal.

The vendors were awarded the project as part of the National Grid's inaugural 200MW Enhanced Frequency Response last year. In its first move into energy storage, Foresight last month bought a 35MW battery system from Renewable Energy Systems, also a facility awarded in the tender, ensuring it now owns 22.5 percent of the capacity on offer.

Its double storage swoop – alongside a recent investment in an unsubsidised solar plant in Portugal, billed as “the first part of a larger unsubsidised solar portfolio” – point to a slight diversification away from deals based largely in operational solar farms and anaerobic digestion projects. It is currently targeting £500 million ($640 million; €575 million) for its Foresight Energy Infrastructure Partners fund, set for a first close by the end of the year.

Foresight’s transaction has coincided with an announcement from the UK government that over the next four years it will plug £246 million into the research, innovation and scale-up of battery technology, stating its intention to become a “world leader” in the field. The first phase of the government’s new programme will include a £45 million injection to establish a centre for battery research to make the technology more accessible and affordable.

The UK’s Renewable Energy Association said the country is already “among the global leaders for battery technology” and called for more certainty to be provided by the government.

“For the handbrakes to be taken off we need to see the rules and regulations made in a different age updated for these new technologies and approaches, coupled with a renewed commitment to renewables,” said James Court, head of policy at the REA. “The market is changing quickly, yet reversals in policy have seen the UK slowing in areas such as solar and onshore wind which are now cheaper than fossil fuels. The government needs to remember that the success of batteries, renewables and smart technologies are all interlinked.”