Nottinghamshire County Council invests in solar storage project

Via and Cheesecake Energy teams visit the Bilsthorpe depot (Image by Cheesecake Energy)

Nottinghamshire County Council is set to invest in an energy storage project that seeks to charge electric vehicles with on-site solar power.

At their meeting on 9 December, councillors gave their unanimous support for endorsing a partnership between Via East Midlands, a highways services company owned by the County Council, and Cheesecake Energy Ltd with a £20,000 towards feasibility work on setting up an energy storage facility at Via’s Bilsthorpe Depot.

The pilot system, which will be used to charge Via’s first few electric vehicles and store solar energy generated at weekends, is expected to be up and running in spring 2021.

The facility will also support charging of the county’s new electric bus fleet.

Mike Simpson, Co-Founder and CEO of Cheesecake Energy, commented on the announcement of the council’s support: “The council is showing strong leadership in tackling the climate emergency and we’re grateful to the team for supporting local emerging businesses like ourselves.

“With this partnership, we hope to set a blueprint to follow, for other local authorities and partners that are committed to delivering net zero, as well as benefiting their communities through savings and additional revenues from their energy assets.”

Despite the scheme receiving cross-party support at the County Council’s policy committee meeting, one councillor asked that any requirements for further funding be approved by the committee first to stop any costs from escalating, according to Nottingham Post.

A progress report is also be sent to the county council after six months, followed by yearly updates.

Cheesecake Energy Ltd is a spin-out company from the University of Nottingham, based on energy research led by Professor Seamus D. Garvey at the University’s Faculty of Engineering, which aims to develop ‘world’s greenest energy storage technology’ by using remanufactured hardware from the automotive and compressed natural gas industries.

By 2025, Cheesecake Energy expects to have annual revenues over £20 million.

The company’s ‘unique’ energy storage technology, dubbed SuperTanker, stores two-thirds of the electricity as heat.

To store the energy, electric motors are then used to drive compressors, which push high pressure air and heat into storage units.

When the electricity is required, the high-pressure air and heat is pushed back through the same compressor (but now working as a turbine), which turns a generator to produce electricity.

Cheesecake Energy believe their system will cut the cost of storing energy by 30-40% and offers a solution that can be used in several sectors including electric vehicle charging, heavy industry and renewable energy generation.

The company’s partnership with Via allows them to demonstrate their system in a live environment. The project is also supported by funding from Innovate UK.

Last month, a rapid non-statutory review into Nottingham City Council and the ‘serious governance and risk management issues’ associated with the council’s private energy company Robin Hood Energy was confirmed by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.