State government backs big batteries and solar to drive recovery

Residents will be able to install larger solar energy systems on their roofs without council approval and NSW may get its first big battery as part of planning changes introduced by the state government.

The moves were flagged last November but have been given greater urgency as the government seeks ways to ignite economic growth once the COVID-19 lockdowns ease.

Until now, residents wanting solar panel systems of greater than 10 kiloWatt capacity first needed council approval. Photo: Nick Moir

Existing rules require residents to get council approval if they want to install solar photovoltaic systems of more than 10-kilowatt capacity. Residential zones, such as aged care home, were also limited to 100kW systems.

Under the changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy for infrastructure, those rules have been relaxed.

It is hoped the changes will increase flexibility so people can install new and more efficient PV systems on the roofs of commercial premises.

“These changes ensure planning requirements are aligned with advances in technology, and enable emerging energy projects to progress through the planning system more efficiently,” Mr Stokes said.

The amendments are the first the state government has made designed to speed the take-up of low-carbon technologies as part of the economic recovery from the corona virus shutdown.

The NSW environment minister Matt Kean said changes were “great news” for customers and the industry, and would help support new energy generation projects funded through the government’s $75 million Emerging Energy Program.

“Over the past five years, wind and solar electricity generation has almost tripled,” Mr Kean said, adding that almost half a million homes now had solar PV.

“These planning changes are an important next step to help innovative electricity projects like big batteries, higher capacity solar and wind come online sooner and lower energy bills.”

So far the state has lagged in is the introduction of large batteries such as South Australia’s 100 megawatt-sized Hornsdale Power Reserve, which is already proving a financial success and Victoria following suit with their own big batteries.

The SEPP amendments recognise large-scale electricity storage will play an increasing role in the transition to renewable energy.

The changes will enable utility providers to construct electricity storage as part of improvement works to transmission and distribution networks, and allow for large-scale battery storage systems to be built in permitted zones across NSW, the government said in a statement.

In a November report on the proposed changes, the Planning Department said its energy division had already received as many as 15 applications for grant funding of standalone battery projects under the $75 million program.

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By ChrisWilliams | April 24th, 2020 | Categories: News

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