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Electricity storage projects to face fewer planning barriers in UK
The government is to relax planning legislation to make it easier to develop large-scale battery systems that store electricity generated at solar and wind farms. Ministers are introducing legislation to remove barriers for storage projects above 50 MW in England and 350 MW in Wales.
The UK already has the largest offshore wind capacity in the world but, because the availability and speed of wind is not constant, energy is sometimes produced when it is not needed and then lost. Energy storage can take up the slack, says the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Removing barriers for storage projects could treble the number of batteries serving the electricity grid and help bring about storage cells that are five times bigger than those currently available, says BEIS. Storage is already playing a key role in balancing the UK’s electricity system during the falls in demand during the pandemic.
Minister for Energy and Clean Growth 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.’
The move was widely welcomed, particularly by the renewables industry. Trade association RenewableUK’s Director of Policy and Regulation Rebecca Williams said: ‘We’re glad that the government has listened to industry and will now allow local planning authorities to determine battery projects of 50 MW and above, rather than the Secretary of State, which can be a longer and more expensive process. We currently have over 580 [storage] projects, including battery storage, either operational, under construction or in development nationwide, with total capacity of over 17 GW.’