Herbert Smith Freehills has advised Cero Generation (Cero), a leading European specialist in solar energy development, production and storage, and their UK development partner Enso Energy (Enso) in relation to the construction, financing and revenue optimisation of a 49.5MW/99MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) project.
The BESS project will be co-located with the Larks Green solar PV project, the UK’s first transmission-connected solar farm, located in South Gloucestershire. The 49.9MW solar farm, developed jointly by Cero and Enso, came online earlier in May 2023, while the BESS project reached financial close on 24 May 2023 and is planned to be operational by late 2024. Together, the projects will form the UK’s first co-located solar and battery storage project to feed electricity directly into the transmission network.
This BESS project will help the UK energy system to better match green energy generation to demand, storing excess clean energy when there is an oversupply for use when there is a shortage or additional demand. It will maximise the site’s efficiency by connecting to the transmission network using the same connection point as the solar farm, thereby enabling a greater output of clean energy, helping to lower costs for consumers and providing a secure and reliable power source.
Cero believes that energy storage is a key enabler for the deployment of increased levels of renewable energy and is developing storage assets across its entire European portfolio.
The BESS project has been financed by Rabobank, who also financed the Larks Green solar project. The BESS project has enabled the establishment of long-term partnerships with both Canadian Solar as the lead on the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) for the battery, and EDF as the battery performance optimiser.
The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by partner and head of the non-contentious construction team Tim Healey who, supported by consultant Ed Johnson and senior associate John Patrick Attlee, advised on the construction aspects of the project. Energy and infrastructure finance partner Helen Beatty, senior associate Charlotte Whight, associate Joana Bourouphael and trainee Gloria Cronin provided project financing advice while partner Silke Goldberg and senior associate Sam Cundall advised on revenue optimisation aspects of the project.
Tim Healey said: "We are pleased to have assisted Cero and their development partner Enso on achieving this significant milestone in their efforts to accelerate the delivery of renewable energy in the UK and across Europe. This transaction demonstrates the firm's deep sector expertise and capability in guiding clients as they navigate the legal challenges presented by newer technologies such as battery storage."
Marta Martinez Queimadelos, CEO of Cero Generation, said: “It’s been a pleasure to work alongside Herbert Smith Freehills on the journey to our first financial close of one of our battery energy storage projects. Co-located with our Larks Green solar farm, the battery will enable us to maximise efficiency and increase the UK’s uptake of renewable power, while also marking an industry-first by connecting to the transmission system. We’re very grateful to Herbert Smith Freehills for the counsel that contributed to us reaching this milestone.”
Andrew King, Director of Enso Energy, said: “Connecting co-located battery storage and solar at transmission level is a UK first, and we would not have been able to reach this position of financial close for the addition of the battery storage at Larks Green without the help and expertise of Herbert Smith Freehills. There are many people involved in delivering renewable connections, many of whom enable behind the scenes, but all play their important part in helping to deliver net zero in the UK. ”