Policy Summary: Consultation on how planners should consider electricity storage projects

POLICY: The treatment of electricity storage within the planning system - consultation.

Dinorwig Power Station: storage facility
Dinorwig Power Station: storage facility

ISSUED BY: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

ISSUE DATE: 14 January 2019

Background: In July 2017, the government published its Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan for upgrading the UK’s energy system. Removing the barriers to smart technologies, such as electricity storage, was identified as one of three broad priorities. Then the government engaged with energy industry stakeholders to discuss how storage should be treated in the planning system. This consultation seeks views on the government’s proposed approach in England.

Key points: Electricity storage facilities can be standalone projects or co-located with other types of generation, the consultation document states. The planning system does not currently distinguish between the two types of facility. This consultation seeks views on how both standalone storage projects and co-located generation and storage facilities – composite projects – should be treated by the planning system. For planning purposes, electricity storage in England and Wales is considered a form of generation. Policy dictates that non-wind power onshore generating systems with a capacity of up to 50 megawatts (MW) are dealt with by local planning authorities. Projects with higher generating capacities are deemed nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) and require a development consent order from the secretary of state.

For standalone electricity storage projects, views are sought on the government’s proposed option of keeping the 50MW NSIP threshold. Composite projects are considered NSIPs where the combined capacity of generating and storage elements exceeds the 50MW threshold. The government is seeking views on whether a new threshold should be established for composite projects. It proposes that such composite projects would be considered under the NSIP regime where either the individual capacity of the electricity storage element is more than 50MW or the capacity of the generating element is more than 50MW. Projects not meeting these thresholds would be considered by the local planning authority.

Many storage technologies "can be deployed as standalone facilities or co-located with other types of generation", the document notes. When it comes to deciding whether a facility forms a single composite project, the government believes there are a number of factors that planners and developers should take into account. These might include proximity between storage and generation elements, the presence of shared infrastructure, whether there is a single operator for the assets, and the project’s landscaping. Whether the assets are "technically interoperable" is "likely to be important", the document adds.

Views are also sought on whether composite projects involving storage and onshore wind should be determined by planning authorities, as all onshore wind projects now are, rather than through the NSIP process. The consultation closes on 25 March.

The consultation can be found here. 

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