Battery energy storage is vital to creating a more sustainable and reliable energy system, supporting the energy transition and providing greater energy security. As we work towards reaching net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050, battery storage sites are going to become a more common presence up and down the country. Renewable energy will continue to be the cheapest form of electricity and we’re going to need lots of batteries to store it.
Every battery site we build will operate for decades, so will be built to last. It also needs to be built in a considerate way, taking into account the area it’s being built in and the people who may live or work nearby.
Field is responsible for each of our sites, through construction and operation (and even beyond as we’ll explain later on). Responsible development is at the heart of our business; we engage early with communities through the project development process, oversee the construction on-site and we’re responsible for the project once it’s in operation - so we’re part of communities for the long-term.
That’s why we have a clear set of principles when it comes to every stage of life for every battery site we own. Those principles are:
1. Set high standards and go beyond requirements
As you’d expect, building and operating a battery storage site involves strict UK and international regulations. These have been developed to ensure a minimum standard of excellence that all battery site owners abide by on key elements like safety and the environment.
At Field, we consider and comply with all relevant regulations before we start work on a site. However, we also strive to go further than this; aiming to set new best practices that will drive the battery industry forward. Health & Safety and in particular Fire Safety are two areas we’ve particularly focused on.
Our strong, experienced in-house team is helping us achieve this goal. For example, we hired our QHSE Manager both because of their experience, but also their passion to raise standards and improve the way health & safety and the environment are considered when building and operating sites.
Field are a member of several working groups involved in creating and implementing standards for the industry, including working with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. We are part of several forums discussing best practice and learnings in general site safety and fire management to ensure that any developments in standards are captured leading to the Field Standards being continually updated and in line with the most up-to-date industry requirements.
2. Listen to the community, and act quickly when needed
Some sites that we build have been acquired early in the process, often just after they have secured planning permission. We then complete development and construction of these sites and operate them.
For a lot of our sites, we develop them from scratch. It’s our aim for these sites to engage and meet with the community living nearby. We want to learn from local knowledge that will help inform our proposals, to understand how the community feels about our plans and any concerns they may have, so that we can work together to address them.
We host public consultations to introduce ourselves and our proposals for a site and to engage with the local community. We then share feedback on how this has helped shape our proposals, from the management of our construction traffic through to the design and landscaping of our sites. Because battery storage sites are still a relatively new industry, we also spend time explaining how the sites work, why we need them, and what safety measures we always take.
One of the most important things we stress is that when Field builds a battery, we’re there for the whole lifespan of the site - a community won’t see a different set of faces running it in the future. This also means we are true to our commitments as we are responsible for their delivery.
This isn’t a one-off meeting either. We keep the conversation going with our communities right the way through the development.
3. Everyone matters, so listen and talk to all of them
We understand a community is made up of lots of different residents, businesses and public services, and that each community we work with will be different. That’s why we aim to engage with a wide range of people, particularly in the early development stage of our battery sites.
As well as local residents and businesses, we spend time working with the local council and other statutory technical specialists. For example, we consult experts in ecology and environmental health to agree on the scope of our surveys and assessments, and understand the potential impact of our sites and where mitigation might be appropriate. Biodiversity is another area where we strive for best practice, ensuring that all of our sites offer a biodiversity net gain, thereby leaving the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand.
We also work with local councils to understand how our plans can support their own aims and goals, particularly their net zero plans. We speak with the local MP, MSP and/or MS to let them know about our plans and to answer questions they have. We aim to arrange site visits too, as there’s nothing better than seeing a site in-person to understand what we’re doing and why.
We also work very closely with organisations like the local Fire and Rescue Service. We don’t expect anything to go wrong at our sites, but it’s always better to over rather than under prepare. We want to make sure these organisations know who we are, how we can work together to handle problems if anything did happen, and how we will comply with all relevant requirements.
This engagement starts in the development phase to ensure that our sites are designed with safety in mind, and continues throughout construction and operation. These organisations review our plans, to ensure that we are meeting best practise guidelines and falling in line with statutory requirements. This input forms valuable partnerships from the outset of our projects and throughout and any comments are fed back into the initial design process for all of our future projects.
4. Leave no trace behind at the end of a site’s life
While our battery sites are intended to operate for decades, they won’t run forever. Even though our first site in Oldham has only been operating since 2022, we’re already thinking about what happens down the line when it finishes its work. And the same is true of all the other sites we’re developing and building.
The most important aim of decommissioning a site is to leave it in a similar condition to when we arrived, or ideally in a better one. This includes safe removal of all above ground components, recycling as many of them as we can, and responsibly disposing of any items we can’t.