The Government announced today that it is to relax planning legislation to make it easier to construct large batteries to store renewable energy from solar and wind farms across the UK.
Removing barriers for energy storage projects, which are discouraging bolder investment decisions in larger battery facilities, could treble the number of batteries serving the electricity grid. It will help bring about storage cells that are 5 times bigger than those currently available.
The UK has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind farms in the world, however, because the availability and speed of the wind is not constant, energy can sometimes be produced when it is not needed and then lost.
Today’s move will see the introduction of secondary legislation to remove barriers for storage projects above 50 MW in England and 350 MW in Wales, meaning more clean energy can be stored and used all year round.
Energy storage has played a key role in balancing the UK’s electricity system during the 20% drop in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring what was produced was used efficiently.
Minister for Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng stated “The key to capturing the full value of renewables is in ensuring homes and businesses can still be powered by green energy even when the sun is not shining, or the wind has stopped blowing. Removing barriers in the planning system will help us build bigger and more powerful batteries, creating more green-collar jobs and a smarter electricity network.”
Flexible technologies like batteries will form part of the UK’s smarter electricity grid, supporting the integration of more low-carbon power, heat and transport technologies, which it is estimated could save the UK energy system up to £40 billion by 2050.
The government has so far pledged an investment of more than £3 billion in low-carbon innovation, as the UK aims to end its contribution to climate change entirely by 2050.