What’s in store? Our analysis of the co-location development pipeline

Amid underlying volatility in wholesale power prices, opportunities for access to wider flexibility revenue streams, and the impact of price cannibalisation, the case for co-location for renewable energy assets is growing.

As part of Cornwall Insight’s Renewables Pipeline Tracker service, a case study is included in each report’s release based on a topical developments seen in the renewables pipeline or wider market. In our Q122 report (issued in June 2022), we provided a summary of known co-located sites currently in the development pipeline. In this blog, we explore the key trends from the case study.

Our June 2022 analysis identified a total of 217 sites in the development pipeline that are co-located with known sites in either our Renewables Pipeline Tracker or BEIS’s Renewable Energy Planning Database. This total has doubled in capacity terms, from 4.3GW (156 sites), since we last conducted the analysis in January 2021.

Based on the current co-location pipeline, there is a clear dominance of co-located solar PV and onshore wind projects. This is unsurprising given the impact of price cannibalisation—the depressive influence on achievable wholesale revenues at periods of high renewables output—that these technologies are subject to, alongside an increasing volume of older solar PV and onshore wind sites that may now be looking to extend their project lifespans. Solar PV dominates the co-located pipeline at 171 sites (8.7GW) in our June 2022 analysis, followed by onshore wind at 40 sites (2.6GW). This has increased markedly for solar PV, rising from 41 sites (970MW) as in our January 2021 analysis.

The majority of pipeline co-located sites (including associated co-located batteries) have a development status of either scoping, application submitted or awaiting construction, at 6.9GW, 6.3GW and 3.6GW, respectively, with a smaller amount (211MW) classed as under construction. A small proportion of sites, mainly onshore wind (141MW) are operational however, with their respective batteries currently in the planning pipeline. Importantly, the large amount of battery capacity (4.0GW) currently in scoping follows a trend of increasing capacity of new-build storage assets.

The number of planning applications submitted for co-located sites in recent years has increased sharply, with 157 projects submitting planning applications in 2021, and 63 to date in 2022. Additionally, for older projects there is a greater amount of time between the planning applications for the renewable energy asset and its co-located battery being submitted. This is in part due to a number of older extension and repowering renewable sites which have since added battery co-location to their project plans, in addition to a wholesale pricing environment that supports energy storage.

In contrast, there is a generally shorter period of time between each planning application being submitted for newer sites, with the majority of projects post-2018 being in the same year for both the renewable energy site and its respective co-located battery.

Whilst co-location is not without its challenges, the current volatility in underlying wholesale power prices indicates ample scope for future growth of co-located projects, with co-location allowing renewable energy projects to enter meaningfully into additional revenue streams, such as response services and the Balancing Mechanism, alongside further benefits such as shared grid connections and associated cost reductions.

The Renewables Pipeline Tracker service comprises a searchable, accessible database and accompanying analysis report, designed to provide detailed information on future renewables generation assets and transparency on the pipeline of assets coming to market. Updates are issued quarterly, with special feature case studies analysed to provide a detailed view on developments within technologies and types of asset. To find out more about the Renewables Pipeline Tracker, please contact Tom Ross at t.ross@cornwall-insight.com

Related thinking

Low carbon generation

Blowin’ in the Wind: Is offshore wind the answer to Ireland’s net zero future?

As Ireland works towards achieving net zero by 2050, there is a pressing need to develop additional renewable energy capacity. Offshore wind is likely to be a particularly important sector and, thanks to Ireland’s large offshore exclusive economic zone, presents a valuable opportunity for the Irish economy. Cognisant of this...

Regulation and policy

Calm after the storm although transition begins to lag | 2023 year in review

This year saw a return to relative calmness after the energy shocks of last year, while governments are playing an increasing role as the rate of new renewable generation lags. Spot pricing was subdued compared to last year, with no significant unexpected outages that caused sustained price spikes. Higher levels...


New South Wales REZ outlook

From Cornwall Insight Australia's Energy Market Perspective Our quarterly Energy Market Perspective contains an analysis of indicative capacity at REZ zones throughout the NEM.  The following assessment for NSW is from our latest edition. Request Energy Market Perspective call back The strategic development of Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) in New...


Latest Marginal Loss Factor (MLF) forecasts

Cornwall Insight Australia recently launched our Marginal loss factor (MLF) curve subscription insight service. The MLF curve provides future projections of MLF throughout the NEM, allowing clients to be better informed of likely MLF trajectories for both current projects and be able to benchmark MLFs for projects under development. The...

Low carbon generation

De-risking renewable development: CI RESS Model inspires policy changes in RESS 3 T&Cs  

Last year, we partnered together with Wind Energy Ireland (WEI) to produce a report titled “Improving Revenue Certainty and Risk Allocation for New Renewable Generators”, which explored potential auction policy changes for the RESS auction that would help de-risk renewable investment for developers and generators. At the heart of this...

Low carbon generation

Understanding the evolution of the Irish electricity markets

The Irish electricity sector has undergone significant change in recent years. The Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM) arrangements introduced in 2018 fundamentally transformed the market framework to maximise competition, facilitate electricity wholesale trading, and incentivise the development of low-carbon generation sources. In parallel the physical system continues to evolve rapidly....

E-mobility and low carbon

2022’s most exciting ‘Charts of the Week’

Some of our team have looked back throughout 2022 and picked their most exciting ‘Chart of the Week’.​Their choices include exploring green tariffs, wholesale gas prices, CfD allocation round 4 and the MHHS Implementation Levy.  It’s My Birthday – Two years of Dynamic Containment Picked by Tom Faulkner, Head of...

Energy storage and flexibility

“Co-location, co-location, co-location”: Benefits and challenges

Key take-aways of the launch event   By Jamie Maule, Dr Matthew Chadwick & Nick Fothergill (Partner – Weightmans LLP) As part of the UK’s transition to net zero, the electricity generation mix needs to evolve, with increasing amounts of renewable capacity required to meet net zero commitments. To maximise...