REA, planning changes for electricity storage to boost subsidy-free renewables

The REA is the UK’s largest renewable energy and clean technology body, representing around 500 member companies.

REA comment on changes to planning framework for energy storage: “Changes introduced yesterday by Government will boost the ability for subsidy-free renewable power projects to be built in England and Wales.

Electricity storage, ranging from lithium-ion batteries to cryogenic systems and compressed air, are a key enabler of a modern low-cost and low-carbon power system particularly when they are located alongside renewable power projects like wind and solar.

The previous system required storage projects over 50MW to be approved by the Energy Secretary via the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) system. The changes will instead allow most electricity storage technologies (excluding pumped hydro) to progress through the Town and Country Planning Act. This means that permission to progress projects over 50MW, which previously took 1-2 years to process, will now be able to receive permission in 8-16 weeks.

The previous framework significantly impacted the size of projects being developed, with the majority of battery storage projects deployed to date being 49MW in order to avoid the previous planning regime.”

Frank Gordon, Head of Policy at the REA said: “This is a welcome change in the market which will support the UK’s position as a world leader in energy storage technologies. The previous cap was largely arbitrary and skewed the market. As energy storage built alongside new renewables projects is crucial to unlocking subsidy-free deployment, the old system acted as major barrier to achieving our Net Zero target and building low-cost generation sites.

“We welcome the decision to apply this change to most forms of electricity storage, as called for by the REA and our energy storage members. The UK is home to pioneering compressed air, flow battery, gravity battery, and cryogenic systems in addition to lithium-ion batteries.

 “Whilst this is a positive development, we must remember that there are a matrix of changes that need to be made to the way our grids and energy system are managed if we are to fully decarbonise. We welcome other recent announcements to this end, including the regulator’s proposal to increase the allowable spending by the Electricity System Operator so that they can develop their control room to fully capture the benefits of a more local and dynamic system.”

Vijay Shinde, Chair of the REA Energy Storage Forum and Chief Technology Officer at Harmony Energy said: “We welcome this change which will increase the speed at which the energy storage industry can develop projects. This comes on the heels of other recent positive announcements, including the ending of ‘double charging’ taxation for storage, and changes to the Capacity Market. The ball is now increasingly in Ofgem’s court to make the additional changes required to achieve Net Zero.”

Edward Sargent, REA Energy Storage Forum member and Business Development Director at Pivot Power said: “We know we need more energy storage to help support more renewables in the UK energy mix and to meet our commitments to net zero. Today’s announcement from Government is great news and will make it easier for more energy storage projects to be built at the scale and speed required. These projects help us built a cleaner energy system and accelerate our transition to a greener future.”

About the REA (The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology)

The REA is the UK’s largest trade association for renewable energy and clean technologies with around 550 members operating across heat, transport, and power. The REA is a not-for-profit organisation that represents renewable energy and clean technology companies operating in over fourteen sectors, ranging from biogas and renewable fuels to solar and electric vehicle charging. Membership ranges from major multinationals to sole traders.

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