Oct 16, 2019
England's parliament is set to eliminate an obstacle to utility-scale warehouse sites, proposing changes to planning laws to allow megaprojects and major capital projects to proceed without government approval. The new plans, revealed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) follow a prior meeting in January on shaping policy for storage sites.
But under the new plans, larger storage projects could receive consent from local planning authorities under the country's Town and Country Planning Act. Requiring storage projects to go through the NSIP has been cited as a significant barrier for large storage projects, especially by the Electricity Storage Network (ESN), for the extra time and expenses this will require. According to ESN members, NSIP adds an expected year to three years to project lead times and expenses can extend to hundreds of thousands, as opposed to tens of thousands through the local planning administration. Madeleine Greenhalgh, policy head for the Electricity Storage Network, said the latest plans are a meaningful and positive change for megaprojects and major capital projects. “Applying rules created for production to storage results in distortions such as this and we are pleased to see the government acknowledge that storage should be treated differently in this case.” The discussion asserts that although energy storage is deemed to serve both designing and permitting purposes, it is “not always suitable” to treat storage in the same way as other generation as it may not account for the “distinctive characteristics” and advantages of warehousing. It supports trade feedback that the first recommendations would not mitigate the supplementary expenses and time connected with the NSIP. The consultation report says that as lithium-ion storage projects typically have less of a footprint in contrast to other kinds of generation such as wind and solar with similar capacity, as well as comparatively swift construction time, NSIP approval is not needed. While these new suggestions refer to lithium-ion batteries, as well as various forms of accommodation including flow batteries and liquid air that could be used at scale as the technology evolves, pumped hydro is left out due to the more comprehensive planning consequences, as well as the projects often needing other consents. Additionally, expect some transitional costs for megaprojects and major capital projects at the pre-application stage by the time the change is established, the consultation states, but this is doubtful due to developers having a lack of time to adjust their preparation due to the modifications not coming into play often for half a year after the deliberation. However, the switch in strategy will result in savings for planning expenses and/or infrastructure charges as the capacity threshold will no longer likely misrepresent the sizing or financing decisions of some developers and the difference will help ensure storage projects are not acquiring “undue additional planning costs". Chris Hewett, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “This is an encouraging step forward for allowing 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.”
Britain's government is set to remove a significant barrier to utility-scale storage sites, proposing changes to planning regulations to allow projects over 50MW to proceed without government approval.
The new proposals, unveiled yesterday by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) follow a previous consultation in January on planning policy for storage sites.
As it stands, projects over 50MW in England and 350MW in Wales must secure approval via the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process. The previous consultation proposed to keep the 50MW threshold but create a new capacity threshold for storage co-located with generation to bypass the requirement for NSIP approval.
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