Energy storage continues to be a hot topic in the UK. With the fast moving nature of technologies entering the market place, senior EIA consultant Chris Yendell considers the merits of a pro-active planning campaign when it comes to managing risk and maintaining flexibility.
With the refreshingly proactive claims made in a recent BEIS publication known as The Clean Growth Strategy, it is most pleasing to see that significant support will be given to renewable energy and electricity storage in years to come. In Scotland, we are already seeing days where our electricity is generated entirely from renewable sources. This impressive feat has allowed us to look ahead, shining the spotlight on a substantial opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint by storing the surplus. The best part is, it’s already happening.
In my experience, successfully predicting the path of the UK energy industry is about as easy as winning a game of roulette. Fortunately, this article is no prediction; it's a reflection of what we see happening on the ground today. With a wealth of viable projects being talked about, one can be fairly certain that our industry’s habit of bombarding the Distribution Service Operators (DSO) with new applications is as healthy as ever. This means that a large number of energy storage projects with signed connection agreements are emerging on the scene and there’s a real appetite to progress through the planning and consenting stages at pace.
Now that developers are securing these viable connection agreements, the consultants among us will be receiving briefs with timescales such as: “…it was needed yesterday!” Luckily for us, these projects are generally able to gain consent in a much shorter space of time than a large commercial renewables project would require.
To keep things interesting, investing parties can sometimes make a case for consent being required before the completion of design work. This leads to the question: how do you get consent for something when no one knows quite what it is that needs to be developed? In the world of consenting, there are ways and means in which applications can be de-risked (in planning terms) before a design freeze been achieved. In fact, a similar process has been undertaken across a number of the renewable energy disciplines for well over a decade.
In summary, with a number of new energy storage products joining the party and a continually growing list of routes to market, it is becoming apparent that the development of such systems can be carefully managed through the planning process at an early stage in a way that avoids exposure to unnecessary risk. The key to this lies in the incorporation of sufficient flexibility to today’s consents that allows them to meet the needs of tomorrow’s markets and take advantage of technology that emerges in years to come.