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Zenobē secures £147M to accelerate Scotland’s decarbonisation of energy production

Zenobē's Blackhillock site
Image credit: Zenobē

Zenobē, the specialists in EV fleet and grid-scale battery storage, have announced £147 million of project finance debt to support Scotland’s leadership in renewable energy. The financing was structured by NatWest, and was supported by several leading infrastructure banks including ABN AMRO, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, NatWest, Rabobank, Santander UK, and Siemens Financial Services.

The finance will be used to fund a 300MW/600MWh battery storage site in Kilmarnock South, and adds to the £101 million secured in February 2023 to construct a 200MW/400MWh storage project in Blackhillock. TFN asked Zenobē’s co-founder, Nicholas Beatty, more about their projects and their vision for sustainable energy.

Helping to make the most of sustainable energy

Founded in 2017, Zenobē has grown from three founders to become a global company with more than 250 employees working in Europe and Australasia and expanding into North America. It offers grid-scale and EV fleet battery storage, and their projects in Scotland mean they play a significant role in the energy economy. With 730MW of storage in operation or under construction, and a further 900MW in development, they expect to have around 20% of the UK market share by 2026.

And this storage is essential for renewable energy. Because it’s impossible to turn the wind or sun on or off, it means a lot of energy is lost. “Renewables are abundant and are the cheapest source of energy,” Beatty says. “But the UK currently wastes enough clean energy to power 1.2 million homes per year due to a lack of storage.”

Zenobē addresses this by storing this excess energy for use during periods of high demand. “We are the largest independent owner of battery storage in the UK, with about 430MW of contracted battery storage in operation or under construction,” Beatty told us. “Our batteries capture excess energy on windy and sunny days and release it back onto the grid when supply is low to power homes and transport.”

The ability to better manage energy from renewable sources has benefits for both the environment but also customers’ pockets. During periods of excess supply wind generators are paid ‘curtailment costs’ to turn off their turbines, but by reducing this it’s estimated that the Wishaw plant will save consumers around £41 million over fifteen years.

Taking a strategic role in the national grid

But the benefits to the environment are also big. Zenobē’s batteries can hold a significant amount of energy. “Our 1.2GW portfolio — that’s all the projects together — will be enough to power all homes, around 2.55 million households, in Scotland for 2 hours a day by 2026,” Beatty told us. And because that means traditional, fossil fuel, generation, is used less, there is less CO₂ pumped into the atmosphere. The Kilmarnock South site alone is projected to save around 3.45 million tonnes of CO₂ a year.

“Delivery of this incremental funding package to enable the construction of Zenobē’s pivotal battery storage site in Kilmarnock South, Scotland, represents a further important step forward on the journey to enhance Scotland’s renewable energy capacity,” said Joe Taylor, NatWest’s Head of Infrastructure, Project, and Asset Finance. It means that Zenobē are a major part of Scotland’s, and the UK’s, journey towards net-zero.

Zenobē’s projects help address one of the biggest challenges of sustainable energy, matching generation with demand. Zenobē have already become leaders for their EV battery storage, supporting over 1,000 vehicles across the world, and are the largest operator of EV buses in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Meanwhile, their Blackhillock site will be the world’s first to deliver stability services using a transmission-connected battery. The latest finance cements their position as a strategic provider of battery storage.

Beatty feels that Zenobē is well-positioned to help the UK meet its environmental challenges. “We enable fleet operators to electrify sooner by reducing financial and operational barriers, all while future-proofing plans to ensure longevity and maximise its value,” he told us. And that is being reflected in the confidence that private sector finance has in their products. “We are mobilising private sector investment and the UK’s competitive advantage by pioneering innovative green financing mechanisms to accelerate our work,” he said. “Our mission is to accelerate decarbonisation. The UK has already started its transition to a net-zero economy. But if we are going to meet our goals, we need to move faster.”

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