Richborough Energy Park expansion given the green light

Richborough Energy Park plan Image Pacific Green

By Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Esson

A bid to expand an energy park across an 11-acre site has been given the green light.

Thanet District Council has approved plans for Richborough Energy Park to erect 201 container units across the site off the A256.

Papers show the structures – which will take up to two years to install – will be up to 2.9 metres tall and house batteries that will store a combined 249Mw when there is a surplus in the network, before sending it back into the national grid.

Energy giant Pacific Green previously confirmed its intent to acquire the battery storage facility – known as Sheaf Energy Ltd – and says on its website that work has already commenced at the site.

Planning documents produced by Sheaf Energy Ltd say: “The battery storage of electricity is an important piece of the renewable infrastructure and is a key part of the move to a low-carbon network.

“Energy production from renewables and nuclear cannot be ‘turned off’ – the sun still shines and the wind still blows, irrespective of the need at that time.

“The electricity is therefore wasted if it is unused, so battery storage allows for this to be harnessed and delivered to the network at other times.”

The 201 batteries – which will have a lifespan of 30 years – are earmarked to be positioned on a vacant plot currently home to a wind turbine and maintenance shed at the site off the A256.

Bosses from Sheaf also stress: “There are no emissions, noise or vibrations arising from the batteries” which will store renewable and non-renewably sourced electricity.

They add that the construction will create jobs, but once the project is complete it will be managed off-site and will not require staff present on a daily basis.

In February and April 2021, permission was given to two previous versions of the same plan, involving significantly fewer units.

Councillors sitting on the authority’s planning committee gave the latest proposals the go-ahead last Wednesday despite concerns raised about the origins of the electricity kept inside the batteries.

Cllr Mike Garner (Green) noted: “If it isn’t renewable energy being stored here, then obviously we’re not particularly taking account of climate change, we’re exacerbating it.”

The land directly borders the Sandwich Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Cllr Rebecca Wing (Green) raised fears surrounding the impact the development could have on local wildlife during the meeting.

Prefacing her point with “I failed physics at school”, she asked: “Pylons have an electric field, will these batteries have an electric field, and is that detrimental to the wildlife in the area?”

A planning officer in attendance was unable to answer precisely, but the scheme had already been scrutinised by the Environment Agency.

It raised no objections to the proposal, while the likes of Natural England and Kent County Council’s biodiversity team also supported the project.


  1. Wonderful! I am a former Central Electricity Generating Board Engineer, both nuclear, and in the Generation Development & Construction Division, and for years I have been trying to promote the use of Off Peak generation storage! As was mentioned, a great deal of electricity is generated and not used, especially at night, what we used to call Off Peak electricity. Nuclear has only one speed, and can only be used for base load 24/7, unlike gas or renewable sources that can raise or lower generation according to demand.

    Hundreds of Pumped Water Storage power stations have been built world wide, whereby water from a lake usually, is stored at height, and released during the day at peak demand periods. Britain built 3 of these, and in affect they are hydroelectric power stations. Using electricity that is being generated and not used by storing it in gigantic batteries wasn’t around in my day, but I wish it well, especially as it can be built relatively quickly, and cheaply!

    • PS. Further to my post about Pumped Water Storage, I was in a rush, and forgot to mention that when water is released during the day at peak demand, periods to drive water turbines, it is stored in a resouvour at ground level, then pumped back up a mountain during the night, using cheaper Off Peak electricity! When the water is released during the day, it is paid for at a higher price. The difference is the profit, but importantly it means Off Peak electricity is used that would otherwise be wasted! The system being proposed to store electricity using Off Peak electricity is the same principle!

  2. It’s very unlikely that anyone can establish exactly where this surplus electricity is being generated from.

    Once renewable electricity hits the national grid it becomes indistinguishable from electricity generated from fossil fuels so the batteries are likely to contain a mix of electricity matching the origin of which the national grid holds.

    Same principle is true for people signing up for “green tariffs” from utility companies. The mix of electricity they receive when they plug something in is exactly the same as everyone else who haven’t signed up to those tariffs as it all comes from the grid. It’s just some certificates being exchanged in the background.

    • Your not getting it Thanetian Blind, using renewable sources to generate electricity, means gas, oil, and coal are not used! get it now? And they are cheaper! I was offered, and accepted a trip around the Vattenfall wind farm a few years ago, and was very impressed. They were operating the windmills from Ramsgate, all along the Thames estuary, and I asked how long does it take to bring one on load? I was told about 3 minutes, the nuclear power stations I worked on took ten days! Thats why nuclear is only used for base load generation, as its doing this 24/7 and can’t be raised and lowered for high and low demand! Much of this energy is not used, but it could be for Pumped Water Storage!

  3. Why did TDC not take the opportunity to make this conditional upon Thanet getting charging points for both domestic and commercial electric vehicles? TDC complain they do not have suitable charging infrastructure to make the move to electric vehicles, so poison us with their diesel refuse collection vehicles for years to come, and ignore the excellent opportunity they just let slip through their fingers.

  4. Great idea bring it on, seen them container batteries used in other countries but they were stacked 3 high.
    30 year until battery exchange, great.
    Just dont let ScottishPower run the project, they kindly emailed me saying my gas,elec meters are 15 years old and need an urgent upgrade.

  5. Of course some Green (i.e. a new religion) politician questions the safety of electric fields and impact on the frogs living on the site.
    Dear lady: As long as you don’t put your smartphone too close the the frogs they will not suffer any damage.
    Why must the extreme left always be negative? Is it because of the lack of solar power reaching their brains?
    I don’t care what kind of source of electricity these batteries will store, as long as it is not negative green energy.

    • Oh look, a far right winger blaming everything they don’t like or understand on the “extreme left”.

      “Why must the extreme left always be negative?”

      They say, totally not projecting their own negativity across their post on to Green and the “extreme left”.

      Why must the far right be so myopically insular, loving a double standard and lacking in self awareness I wonder?

  6. What is extreme left in questioning if something is safe for the environment it’s in! Just common sense I’d have thought. Are you saying the army of mums campaigning against the proposed phone mast in Westgate on school fields are extreme left ?

    • It’s a battery for heaven’s sake. The same thing that powers my car. Not a microwave transmitter in a schoolyard!

      • Except it isn’t microwave radiation (ionising). Its non ionising radio frequencies you doughnut. You’d get more ionising radiation from your actual microwave heated food, or satellite TV. Lets not even get into where in that scale that the sun sits 😉

  7. Ionising car batteries?
    Ionising TV?
    Ionising microwave food?
    And me being far right in your eyes? I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER voted Tory. I’m a charity worker, but with my eyes wide open. I just have a problem with stupid politicians.

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