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Local authorities to decide energy storage applications

Words: Laura Edgar
Renewable wind energy / Shutterstock 155706680

The UK Government has announced that planning legislation will be relaxed to ‘make it easier’ to construct large batteries capable of storing renewable energy from solar and wind farms.

“Barriers” to energy storage projects, according to the government, are discouraging bolder investment decisions in larger battery facilities. Removing them could “treble” the number of batteries serving the electricity grid.

To prevent the loss of energy generated from wind which can’t be stored when it is not needed, the government plans to introduce secondary legislation to remove remove electricity storage, except pumped hydro, from the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime above 50 MW in England and 350 MW in Wales, so energy can be stored and used throughout the year.

This will see local authorities in both England and Wales decide such schemes. 

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The key to capturing the full value of renewables is in ensuring homes and businesses can still be powered by green energy even when the sun is not shining, or the wind has stopped blowing.

“Removing barriers in the planning system will help us build bigger and more powerful batteries, creating more green-collar jobs and a smarter electricity network.”

The government says flexible technologies like batteries will form part of the UK’s smarter electricity grid, and support the integration of more low-carbon power, heat and transport technologies.

RenewableUK’s director of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams commented: "We’re glad that the government has listened to industry and will now allow local planning authorities to determine battery projects of 50MW and above, rather than the secretary of state which can be a longer and more expensive process. This scale of battery is becoming the new norm. The announcement will stimulate investment in the energy system we need to reach net zero as fast and as cheaply as possible."

In June, the government backed the CryoBattery project, which could create at least 200 jobs, with £10 million. It will be the "world’s largest and first" commercial liquid air battery facility and is planned for Trafford, Greater Manchester.

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