UK First Compressed Air Energy Storage Demonstration Facility

A groundbreaking solution towards decarbonising the energy sector

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Shortlisted for the ‘Innovation in Commerce’ Award at the Green Expo Awards 2023, this project saw Axis successfully securing planning permission for EDF Energy (Gas Storage) Ltd to allow the development of the UKs first-of-its-kind Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) demonstration facility, a groundbreaking solution towards decarbonising the energy sector.

The Process

The Government’s Net Zero Strategy ‘Build Back Greener’ for Net Zero by 2050 is to lead the world in ending our contribution to climate change, and a huge emphasis has been placed on investing in new technologies in the renewables energy industry.

To overcome the fact that renewable energy is intermittent, there is a need for increased energy storage so that renewable technologies can play the primary role in the future energy mix. In December 2020 the BEIS published ‘The Energy White Paper’ which recognises the ability to store excess low carbon energy over longer periods (days, if necessary) would enable the energy system to be decarbonised more effectively at lower costs. The Paper goes on to state: First-of-a-kind demonstrations are required to enable cost reduction and de-risk private investment”.

To support such demonstration projects, in February 2022, the UK Government introduced funding to help ‘turbocharge’ long duration storage projects. £1 million of this funding was awarded to progress the development of Hydrostor’s A-CAES (‘Compressed Air Energy Storage’) technology to store energy as compressed air in redundant EDF gas storage cavities; the first development of its kind in the UK.

As retained planning advisor and lead environmental consultant to EDF Energy (Gas Storage) Ltd (‘EDF’) for their Warmingham Gas Storage Facility at the Warmingham Brine Field, Axis was selected to partner with EDF to commission the necessary environmental assessments and produce the planning application package to secure planning permission for this revolutionary CAES demonstration facility.

The Result

Axis was responsible for all elements of the planning process including the preparation of a Planning, Design and Access Statement, and the drafting and management of all environmental assessment work to support the application.

Axis’ coordination of ecology and drainage requirements, cognisant of tenant farmers’ access and daily operational requirements resulted in the successful incorporation of habitat enhancement measures within the development design, along with new landscape features providing ecological improvement, structure planting and amenity benefit.

Axis used their unrivalled planning experience, their proven approach to securing planning permission, their ability to work alongside their client and inform project design, and their ability to produce coherent, well-written planning documents to secure planning permission. Axis was responsible not only for undertaking environmental assessments in support of the application and design any mitigation necessary to reduce the impact of the project, but also to lead the engagement process with Council officers and members, and the local community, to ensure the application received permission expediently.

Planning permission was granted by CEC, inside the statutory determination period, following close engagement between Axis staff, the Council Officers, and their technical advisors.  This engagement was carried out throughout the feasibility, pre-application and determination periods of the application. Axis’ ability to formulate a compelling and concise need case for the scheme in the context of the transition to Net Zero undoubtedly assisted the engagement process.

Laura Mackey - Project Lead
Senior Planner and Project Lead, Laura Mackey

Client Statement

CAES storage solutions have clear benefits over other energy storage solutions in terms of scale, appearance, capacity, lifetime, duty cycles and costs to scale up. Although the planning permission secured for the CEAS facility at the Warmingham Brine Field is relatively small-scale, CAES is suited to large scale applications, of 100MW or more, and this development provides the evidence necessary to deliver larger scale projects that will revolutionise the UK energy system. Axis’ securing of planning permission for this demonstration facility is considered to be an important first step in that journey.

Said client Matthew Coppenhall, Plant Manager, Gas Storage and Thermal Generation
EDF Energy ”Our consultants Axis played an instrumental role in championing our unique energy storage project in the UK. Their strategic insights and industry knowledge were pivotal in driving this initiative forward and ensuring its viability.

Furthermore, Axisinvolvement extends beyond the project itself, paving the way for alternative uses for our site and unlocking significant business potential for future generations. Their forward-thinking approach not only captured the immediate energy needs but also set the platform for sustainable and versatile developments, ensuring a lasting impact that will benefit generations to come. This strategic vision sets Axis apart, ensuring no detail goes overlooked.

Equally impressive is their exceptional communication skills, which create a seamless and efficient workflow. Obtaining approval for the planning submission was met with challenges due to the programme outlined by the Government funding initiative. Axis recognised and prioritised this challenge, ultimately ensuring all conditions were met within the project programme. Their extensive knowledge in their field and energy sector adds an extra layer of value to our projects, as they are not only adept at what they do but also by sharing their expertise.

Axis makes the complex appear straightforward – thanks to their wealth of experience – guiding us through each of our processes with ease and confidence. Their unwavering commitment to excellence makes them invaluable partners in our business.”


You can read more about this project in our news article when planning was approved>

“[Their] strategic vision sets Axis apart, ensuring no detail goes overlooked… Axis makes the complex appear straightforward – thanks to their wealth of experience – guiding us through each of our processes with ease and confidence. Their unwavering commitment to excellence makes them invaluable partners in our business.”
Matthew Coppenhall
Plant Manager, Gas Storage and Thermal Generation
EDF Energy