London — The UK government is to remove barriers limiting the size of battery storage projects in England and Wales in an attempt to galvanize investment, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said July 14.
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Ministers are to introduce secondary legislation to remove the 50 MW cap in England and the 350 MW cap in Wales, BEIS said.
This would be done by removing onshore and offshore electricity storage — except pumped hydro — from the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime, which has a 50-MW threshold.
The justification for doing this was that the planning impact of storage, predominantly in the form of batteries, was much lower than that of other forms of generation.
"Removing barriers for energy storage projects, which are discouraging bolder investment decisions in larger battery facilities, could treble the number of batteries serving the electricity grid," the ministry said.
Removal of storage from the NSIP regime will mean local planning authorities would now determine whether battery projects of 50 MW and above would proceed, rather than the Secretary of State, which was a longer and more expensive process.
The UK has around 1 GW of battery storage installed, with another 4 GW in the planning stage, BEIS said.
Welcoming the decision, Jake Dunn, renewable development manager at Vattenfall UK, warned that "the volumes of power we need to be able to store are huge" in order to remove fossil fuels from the system, and it was "crucial that storage is co-located at solar and wind farm sites, due to the significant logistical and cost benefits that co-location offers for grid connections and land."
The electricity grid needed urgent upgrades to be able to cope with a forecast increase in demand for electricity as electrification gathered pace, he said.
RenewableUK's Director of Policy and Regulation Rebecca Williams said the trade association had in its database 580 storage projects, including battery storage, that were either operational, under construction or in development nationwide, with total capacity of over 17 GW.
"Five years ago, we had a total energy storage pipeline of just 14 projects with a capacity of under 2.7 GW," Williams said.