Government to lift planning cap on big battery storage projects

Centrica’s Roosecote battery, and other grid-scale batteries, have been developed to 49MW to avoid national planning regime

Government has moved to change planning regulations that effectively capped grid-scale storage projects at 49.9MW, paving the way for bigger batteries.

Beis consulted in January on the regime but proposed keeping the 50MW threshold that categorises developments as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, meaning they must go through the national planning system and require sign off from the secretary of state. The local planning regime tends to be faster, less costly and complex.

However, the department has changed its mind after responses to the consultation said keeping the threshold would hamstring deployment and add costs as developers have been forced to artificially split developments into individual chunks: According to industry data, two thirds of large battery projects in planning are between 49-50MW.

Proposed new rules will exempt storage (except hydro) of 50MW upwards from the national regime in England and Wales.

The shift was welcomed by storage proponents.

“This is a significant and positive change from the government,” said Electricity Storage Network policy lead, Madeleine Greenhalgh.

“It will help many developers who are currently capping projects at 49.9 MW and allow larger storage projects to progress. Applying rules created for generation to storage results in distortions such as this and we are pleased to see the government acknowledge that storage should be treated differently in this case.”

See the consultation here.

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