It could be good news for utility-scale storage sites as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announces changes to the planning regulations for projects over 50MW. If passed (the consultation closes 10 December), these projects could proceed without any government approval.
Currently, projects over 50MW in England and 350MW in Wales must seek approval via the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process however now larger storage projects could receive consent from local planning authorities under the country's Town and Country Planning Act.
This change would make it considerably easier for large storage projects to go ahead as it would remove significant time and cost implications.
Currently, according to ESN members, NSIP can add around 18 months to three years to projects and costs can escalate massively compared to projects going through the local planning regime.
The Solar Trade Association and Renewable Energy Association state the consultation shows the government is “recognising the value that energy storage can bring to the electricity system”.
Chris Hewett, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “This is a promising step forward for enabling energy storage to be connected more swiftly, and giving local communities a stronger voice in determining which developments are right for them. Energy storage is safe, low-impact, and essential for delivering on the UK’s legally binding net zero commitments.”
Growing for growth
RenewableUK (R-UK) say that battery storage planning applications in the UK have increased massively in the last year, with 50% more companies (450 compared to 300 last year) involved in the sector.
R-UK said “The pipeline of storage projects is expected to continue growing and an increasing number of grid-scale battery projects of over 50MWs are expected, after BEIS agreed earlier this year to change planning rules which have, up to now, deterred development at this scale”.
The report said that renewables developers are at the forefront of the market and that the UK has a pipeline of over 600MW of compressed air or liquid air storage projects in development.
Barnaby Wharton, R-UK director of future electricity systems said: “As we build the net-zero energy system of the future based on renewables, we’re changing the way we manage the entire network, using a wide variety of extraordinarily innovative storage technologies.
With the changes to UK planning laws and the growth in applications - alongside major companies entering the market - the industry is growing apace. This should be great news for jobs in the sector and we’re looking forward to a buoyant 2020.