Planned law could unlock 4 GW of UK storage projects


The U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (Beis) has published a draft proposal aimed at spurring the development of large scale energy storage in England and Wales.

The secondary legislation, which follows a public consultation launched in October, is intended to encourage investment in large batteries by amending the approval process for projects with a capacity of more than 50 MW in England and 350 MW in Wales.

The proposed provision could unlock big storage project pipelines in the two countries, according to the government, which stated: “There is currently 4 GW of storage projects in planning which could power a combined 6 million homes, in addition to the 1 GW of battery storage already in operation.”

Planning regime

Under the draft legislation, standalone energy storage systems would no longer be classed as ‘nationally significant infrastructure projects’ (NSIPs) if larger than 50 MW in England, or 350 MW in Wales. NSIPs require planning approval from the appropriate secretary of state but removal of the designation, as proposed by the new legislation, would enable local planning authorities to decide whether to approve such facilities.

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“These changes will apply to applications for new storage facilities, whether as part of a composite project or a freestanding generating station,” said Beis. The legislation would also apply to expansions of storage facilities which require planning permission. “Applications for storage facilities which have already been accepted, and are within the NSIP regime when the changes are introduced, will continue to be consented under that regime, unless the applicant chooses to withdraw the application,” the government department added.

Hydro-based energy storage would continue to come under the NSIP regime, under the proposed new rules, as it is deemed to have larger planning impacts than rival technologies.

Trade association renewableUK estimated the nation had around 6.9 GW of storage projects under development at the end of 2018. Energy storage proved its mettle when a blackout affected large parts of London and the English South East last year. Storage developers Statera and RES subsequently claimed their, respective, 100 MW and 80 MW assets stepped in to replace lost frequency, averting a more extensive incident.

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