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Energy storage planning – Is 2019 set to be a record year?

Louise Leyland, associate at PWA Planning, looks at the issue of energy storage planning and how the sector might develop in 2019.

After a series of false dawns, 2018 was the year where the energy storage sector in the UK finally started to move up through the gears.

There are several reasons for this, but they include a more favourable planning environment, growing funder appetite, the falling cost of solar energy schemes, and growing familiarity with the technology.

2018 was certainly a busy year for PWA Planning with planning approvals for four energy storage schemes. These included a 20MW energy storage facility in Surrey, a 49.5MW system in Buckinghamshire, a 10MW system in Kent and a 49.5MW site in Havering, London.  The trend looks set to continue in 2019 as PWA secured a further consent for a 49.5MW scheme in Bedfordshire in the second week of January.

Three of these grid-balancing schemes were in the green belt, with one being a second facility to accompany an energy storage scheme already granted planning on the same site in 2017.

Solar on the rise again

The Solar Trade Association recently updated its assessments of solar’s levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) which is the cost of electricity per unit over a project’s lifetime. STA says that solar could soon be the UK’s cheapest source of energy and has urged government to introduce policies that enable costs to fall further.

The falling cost of solar PV schemes is great news for the industry which is still recovering from the battering it’s taken from the removal of subsidies. This in turn is good news for energy storage which can enable solar technologies to reach their full potential by storing the energy produced by this technology and releasing it to the National Grid when needed.

Better funding opportunities

Until now, uncertainty over investment returns has been the key challenge for those considering investing in energy storage.

But investors are now starting to establish the right business models for energy storage as they become more familiar with the technology and more comfortable with the ‘merchant risk’.

Ben Irons, executive director at Habitat Energy, believes this is a reason why 2019 will be a breakthrough year for battery storage.

How we can help with energy storage planning

PWA Planning has a dedicated energy planning team and can assist potential applicants, whether it’s energy providers, landowners or funders, with planning applications for energy storage schemes, and indeed other forms of energy generation such as solar and wind.

We can work closely with you as part of a project team to help design a scheme with the strongest possible chance of progressing through the planning system.

This includes through the project management of your application, provision of a robust planning statement to support your scheme, and any stakeholder or community engagement that needs to be conducted.

Louise Leyland is an associate of PWA Planning and leads our energy storage planning team. For further advice call Louise on 01772 369669.

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