UK government eyeing changes to its planning regime for 50MW+ solar sites

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Solar projects above 50MW in the UK are defined as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and go through a more rigorous and lengthy approval process. Image: Duke Energy.

The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is eyeing changes to its planning regime for 50MW+ solar sites, with energy storage developments increasing in the country as well.

As part of its review into energy National Policy Statements (NPSs), which apply only to infrastructure defined as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), the government has proposed new guidance on solar PV as it seeks to overhaul its current planning regime and facilitate the growth of 50MW+ solar projects, which are currently burdened by the NPSs.

Crucially, under a new section added for solar PV, it clarified that inverters used on site should determine the capacity thresholds for solar PV projects under section 15 of the 2008 Act. The act defines the size of projects which can be considered at local authority level rather than though the NSIP route, which has been a major barrier to larger scale solar in the UK due to its increased requirements and timescales.  

The consultation follows calls from Housing Minister Christopher Pincher for industry input into how to reform the NSIP system, which was reported by PV Tech’s sister publication Solar Power Portal.

It also comes amid a flurry of projects in the UK, with work starting at a battery storage site by developers Harmony Energy and Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), which is being lauded as the largest of its kind under construction in the UK.

Elsewhere, battery storage project developer and O&M provider Anesco has had its plan for a 50MW battery storage site in Essex, England approved by the local authority. In the article covering the approval, Energy-Storage.News Editor Andy Colthorpe presents the growing business case for batteries.

The NPSs consultation is expected to close on 29 November.

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