Storage unit permit processing inconsistencies causing issues

Investors seeking to make progress with environmental permit procedures for standalone batteries ahead of an inaugural auction that will offer investment and functional support to energy storage units find themselves facing differing processing speeds at various licensing authorities around the country.

These delays have been largely attributed to the fact that licensing authorities have been tasked with granting licenses for energy storage units for the first time, a newness causing some hesitancy.

The problem is even more acute for energy storage projects with capacities of up to 100 MW as they also require approval from regional authorities, despite an energy ministry circular specifying that an environmental report is sufficient. In some cases, additional information and supporting documents are being requested by certain regional authorities.

Although the issue has generally been straightened out in recent months, differing processing speeds for environmental permit applications remain.

Power grid operator IPTO has received applications to connect standalone batteries representing a total capacity of 5,340 MW, a pool regarded as sufficient for the inaugural auction offering investment support to go ahead.

The differing licensing speeds for energy storage units are resulting in a greater accumulation of such projects in areas where authorities are less demanding.

If energy storage projects end up being excluded from auctions as a result of not possessing environmental permits, then the objective of an even geographical spread of such projects may not be achieved.

A sum of 200 million euros stemming from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) will be offered as investment support for energy storage units under the condition that an inaugural auction is staged by late June.

This essentially means that RAAEY, the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water, will need to officially announce a first auction by mid-May, an initiative requiring a related ministerial decision.