UK seeks views on energy storage

21 January 2019

The UK government is considering plans that will make it easier for developers to gain planning permission for utility-scale energy storage projects.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released a consultation on proposals to exclude energy storage projects from planning regulations applied to power plants of 50 MW or more.

The proposals are part of the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which aims to decarbonise the economy and promote the use of smart, flexible energy systems.

Currently, developers proposing the construction of onshore generating plant of 50 MW or above must apply for planning consent as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).

NSIPs are decided on a case-by-case basis by the Planning Inspectorate. The process tends to be longer and incurs more costs compared with projects decided by local planning authorities.

BEIS’ consultation is seeking industry opinion on whether the 50 MW capacity threshold for NSIPs is appropriate for energy storage capacity. It is also asking whether energy storage projects that are co-located with other forms of generation should be excluded from the 50 MW threshold as long as neither individual generating component exceeds 50 MW in size.

“Smart, flexible energy can help the transition towards a low carbon energy system, whilst bringing significant benefits for consumers, the energy networks and the wider economy,” BEIS says in the consultation.

Frank Gordon, Head of Policy at the REA commented: “A future UK electricity system with high energy storage deployment will reduce the need to produce ‘peak’ demand from fossil fuels, accelerate decarbonisation by improving the efficiency of wind and solar generation, and will reduce the need for costly grid reinforcement.

“With this consultation the Government is proposing to make it easier for grid-scale storage to secure planning permission, which will remove a crucial barrier to this promising sector’s growth and in turn will support job creation in clean tech design, manufacturing, and operations.

“While we welcome this, in our response to this consultation we will urge the Government to go further, for example the capacity threshold being set at 50MW could be limiting and more can be done to facilitate deployment by granting expanded Permitted Development rights.”

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