Lead batteries were omitted from the UK government’s consultation paper suggesting the planning threshold for energy storage system (ESS) projects in England is lifted to 350MW— making it easier for higher capacity energy storage projects to be deployed.
The recommendation to lift the 50MW-planning cap for ESS projects follows a 10-month consultation by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
However, BEIS stated in the document that it didn’t believe it is appropriate to establish a specific threshold for electricity storage (except pumped hydro), and instead believed that it would be more appropriate that projects of this kind are considered and determined by local planning authorities.
UK energy storage projects above 50MW (except Wales) have to go through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project consultation, which incurs significant costs and can take 18-24 months. 50MW was generally deemed to be an appropriate size to determine whether a project is ‘nationally significant’, said BEIS.
This has led to UK projects being deployed at a maximum 49.9MW where proposals are adjudicated by local planning authorities.
Suggestions in this month’s ‘Proposals Regarding the Planning System for Electricity Storage’ consultation paper include processing ESS projects up to 350MW via the local planning authorities, except pumped hydro.
A BEIS spokesman told BEST all energy storage technologies, except pumped hydro, are included in the proposed changes and this includes the technologies that we haven’t specifically mentioned by name including lead-acid.
However, other technologies, including lithium-ion are named.
The omission of lead batteries by name has meant the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) will make a submission to the consultation to highlight the ‘significant opportunities’ offered by lead batteries.
Dr Alistair Davidson, director at CBI, told BEST: “Advanced lead battery systems are supporting a vast array of environmentally-friendly energy storage projects worldwide.
“We will be making a submission to the consultation to highlight the significant opportunities for lead battery supported energy storage systems in the UK and worldwide.”
The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) —formerly the Renewable Energy Association— has been campaigning for the change.
Frank Gordon, head of policy at the REA, said they would be canvassing its members on the revised threshold and supported all forms of energy storage as the UK needed a range of technologies and different duration projects.
Gordon told BEST: “I don’t think this will open the floodgates for new projects as it is only one part of a complex set of costs to develop a project, but what it will do is help to incrementally reduce the cost of new storage projects in the UK and especially pre-construction costs, and that is very welcome.
“It is interesting to compare what has happened in Wales and England in the past as a possible guide – in Wales the threshold was 350MW and this led to projects around 70–80MW in size, while in England the threshold was 50MW and this led to projects 49.9MW in size – so I think that while we could get some pretty large projects, the Welsh figures probably provide a bit more of a guide to future project sizing.
A BEIS spokesman told BEST BAttery Briefing: “In the consultation we proposed to carve electricity storage of all sizes, except pumped hydro, out of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime in England and Wales.
“This was on the basis that they often have lower planning impacts than other forms of energy generation and tend not to have significant local impacts that would make it difficult for local authorities to balance national benefits against local impacts. This means that the 50MW threshold will no longer apply to electricity storage, except pumped hydro which often has a larger planning impact.”
The deadline for the latest round of consultation is 10 December.