The 300MW/600MWh Blackhillock storage project is an under-construction battery storage project in Blackhillock, Scotland. Once commissioned, the energy storage system will become the first battery in the world to deliver stability services using a transmission-connected battery.

The project is being developed by electric vehicle (EV) fleet and battery storage specialist Zenobē Energy.

The company announced financial close and commenced construction on the first phase (200MW) of the battery system in February 2023.

The Phase I of the project is slated to commence commercial operations in summer 2024, while the second phase (an additional 100MW capacity) is expected to go live in the second half of 2026.

The Blackhillock Battery Project forms part of Zenobē Energy’s £750m investment in Scotland and will increase the company’s portfolio in the country to more than 1GW.

It is also the first project to be delivered under the National Grid’s NOA Stability Pathfinder programme that aims to address stability issues in the electricity system.

Location details

The Blackhillock storage project will be located between Aberdeen and Inverness in Blackhillock, Scotland.

As the project will be located in north-eastern Scotland, the project is ideal to integrate offshore wind projects in the North Sea with the UK’s energy grid.

Zenobē Energy is also building two additional storage projects in the country, at Kilmarnock South (300MW / 600MWh) and Eccles (400MW / 800MWh).

Blackhillock battery project details

The Blackhillock energy storage system will be developed in two phases. The first phase will involve building 200MW of storage capacity, followed by an additional 100MW in Phase II.

The project will be connected with the National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO), a British electricity and gas utility company, to provide stability services.

Blackhillock will provide short-circuit level and inertia for efficient functioning of the grid and maintain power supplies during peak demand.

Once operational, the storage project is expected to increase the uptake of renewable energy on the national grid including power from offshore windfarms located at Viking and Beatrice.

Furthermore, the project will be aligned with the UK’s net zero transition goal by delivering stability services using transmission-connected battery.

It is estimated that Blackhillock will offset around 2.3m tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over 15 years by enabling the usage of additional wind power.

Contractors involved

In February 2023, Zenobē selected technology group Wärtsilä as the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) supplier for the Blackhillock Battery Project.

Under the Engineered Equipment Delivery (EEQ) contract, Wärtsilä will supply a 200MW/400MWh energy storage system for the project.

The energy storage system will be controlled by Wärtsilä’s energy management system GEMS Digital Energy Platform. The project will also see the use machine learning along with historic and real-time data analytics to optimise operations.

SMA Solar Technology won the contract to provide battery inverters, Grid Forming Solution, and medium voltage power stations.

Engineering and construction services company H&MV was selected for the delivery of Balance of Plant Works, while GE Grid Solutions won the contract to supply two 180MVA transformers for the project.

Blackhillock Storage Project Financing

In February 2023, Zenobē Energy secured £235m of non-recourse long-term debt facility to fund the Blackhillock and Kilmarnock South battery energy storage projects.

The financing was provided by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Rabobank, Santander UK, Siemens Financial Services through Siemens Bank and NatWest.

NatWest structured the financing as the sole debt advisor.

Pinsent Masons was the borrower legal counsel, while Gowling WLG was associated as the lender counsel.

The commercial advisors were consulting firms Baringa and Cornwall Insight. DNV and Aon were the technical advisor and insurance advisor respectively, while RSM acted as model auditor.

Scotland targets net-zero society by 2045

In 2019, the Scottish Parliament passed a legislation to become a net-zero society by 2045. The target set is five years before the rest of the UK plans to achieve net-zero.

The government also aims to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030.

The development of energy storage projects is expected to support Scotland in achieving its net-zero goal.

A Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan published by the country has also highlighted the need to increase grid scale battery storage capacity.

The strategy aims to deliver an additional 20GW of low-cost renewable electricity generation capacity by 2030.