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BESS project development in Germany about to get slower, BayWa r.e. says

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The process of developing energy storage projects in Germany is about to get longer and there is a risk it grinds to a halt as the market matures and new regulations are made, developer BayWa r.e. has told Energy-Storage.news.

The situation is moving from one with a lack of clarity around permitting and regulations for energy storage projects to one with clearer but potentially more complex regulations, which could slow development down, BayWa r.e.’s head of storage Julian Gerstner said at the ees Europe trade show last week.

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Storage development will go the way of renewables

“To-date, storage development siting has been easy, though when it comes to permitting, there are a lot of negotiations. It involves arguing with legal articles, there are paragraphs of different regulations that are not clear, different decrees can be contradictory depending on who you speak to. One person interprets it as this, the other that etc,” Gerstner said.

That has meant that, for savvy developers, it has been feasible to reach ready-to-build (RTB) stage for a project within 10-11 months of signing a land lease agreement, though this has been getting longer since the start of the year.

“What we are seeing now is some municipalities are starting to discuss guidelines about how to develop storage in the municipality, which permits are necessary, essentially what happened in renewables 15-20 years ago,” Gerstner said.

“So this type of super-fast project development in German energy storage will soon be over. The velocity of developing battery projects in Germany will decrease.”

“There will be a move towards a much slower albeit more predictable procedure, like in the UK where there are clearer regulations. There the challenge is the grid, and it will soon be an issue in Germany.” 

Medium voltage ‘bubble’

There is also going to be a move to building more transmission-level or high voltage-level connected projects, which can be larger in scale than medium-voltage ones albeit more expensive and take longer to build.

A lot of storage project development in Germany has to-date focused on the medium-voltage level, and Gerstner said “there is a bit of a bubble in the medium-voltage environment”.

Major developers and operators of battery energy storage system (BESS) projects in Germany reported on recently by Energy-Storage.news include BayWa r.e., Eco Stor, Kyon Energy, Energisto and Nofar.

‘Danger of nothing happening any more’

Gerstner sounded a note of caution, saying that although it was necessary to formalise and unify project development across the country there is a danger that development stops altogether.

“The danger is these regulations being made – it may become so slow and over-regulated, nothing will happen anymore. There are not yet clear general guidelines for the complete country neither on environmental permitting nor on building permits.”

“Every municipality, district or competent authority has the option to define some things by their own, and there is the danger, in the permitting process, it could really slow down the market. We’re working hard to avoid that and voting for clear but feasible regulations and guidelines.”

BayWa r.e. is part of the BayWa Group, which is also active in agriculture and real estate. BayWa r.e. is active in clean energy project development globally, including Germany as well as the UK, where it recently had a 3-hour BESS approved for construction, France and the US.

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