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| 2 minutes read

New reform pledges are an encouraging sign for UK Renewables and Energy Storage

Its not even a week since a new Labour Government was voted in here in the UK, but there are already some encouraging signs for renewable energy developments, outlined by new Chancellor, Rachel Reeves.

These centre around planning. 

  • A comprehensive review of the policy frameworks for UK planning, with reforms expected - this will cover energy infrastructure including Lab facilities, Gigafactories, and Grid-connected projects like Solar & BESS
  • Commitments to prioritising sustainability and energy projects in planning, to ensure quicker approvals are made 
  • 300 new planning offices to be recruited across the UK

Planning is one of the biggest challenges to delivery of operational BESS capacity in the UK, so simplifying the process and prioritising sustainable developments is certainly what we want to hear. The Chancellor is correct about tough decisions will be needed with certain trade offs but I agree with her comments that the Government "will not succumb to a status quo which responds to the existence of trade-offs by always saying no, and relegates the national interest below other priorities"

Additionally, the ban on onshore wind is set to be removed (something the previous Government hinted at but never delivered on) and consultations on bringing onshore wind back into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime will commence. This will be a huge boost on adding further security into our energy mix - we've seen rapid rises in onshore solar developments and onshore wind can play a crucial part too.

An encouraging start indeed. Alongside these topics, next I'd like to see a concentrated focus on Flexibility mechanisms to encourage more local distributed clean energy generation and storage which will ease the pressure on the grid and in turn will improve the grid connection availability, another major obstacle in delivery at present. Finally, further subsidies to support alternative energy storage technologies, like LDES, would be welcomed!

The important caveat to all of this lies in the fact that so far it's just words. We all know that it's easy to talk the talk, but much more difficult to walk the walk too, but with a full new term ahead, the UK should hopefully now have stability to take action!

 I lead the Energy Storage and Grid practice at Hyperion Executive Search. For the last 10 years, we've helped renewables, energy storage, and EV and future mobility clients to grow their teams across Europe. In the UK, there has been unwavering growth during this time, despite the political landscape but the recent flipflopping on clean energy strategies has been disruptive. I'm cautiously optimistic that we could finally see some real change ahead. 

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The reforms are reportedly to include an enhanced presumption in favour of sustainable development and a relaxation on planning restrictions on 'ugly' parts of the green belt that are of limited value for nature.