UK Energy Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has decided to remove electricity storage, except pumped hydro, from the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime in England and Wales. Previously, storage projects were treated as generation under the planning regime, which adds 18 months to project’s development time-frame and increases planning costs. This had led many developers to limit standalone projects to 50 MW and also impacted co-located generation and storage projects.

The latest decision implies that a key construction barrier surrounding large-scale battery projects has been removed for storage-based wind power projects across England and Wales. In its decision, the government noted that the UK still had the world’s largest installed capacity of offshore wind, and that battery storage was critical to ensuring its reliability as an energy source.

The move will allow the administration of Wales to authorise storage projects of up to 350 MW, while England’s local authorities can authorise 50 MW capacity without central government approval. The policy does not apply to the devolved administrations of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The UK currently has 93 energy storage projects in operation equalling 3,775 MW. These include projects like Vattenfall’s 228 MW Pen y Cymoedd onshore wind project in Wales which has a 22 MW battery, and Equinor’s 30 MW Hywind Scotland floating offshore wind project with an attached 1 MW/1.3 MWh battery.

According to industry reports, another 12 projects are being built (378 MW), 338 projects have planning consent (8,920MW) and 57 projects are making their way through the planning system (1,682 MW).

REGlobal Views: The policy would save developers time and money in project development while encouraging more ambitious large battery projects to be deployed alongside solar and wind farms across parts of the UK.