The long-awaited call for evidence on UK energy storage and smart power policy, giving stakeholders the chance to put forward their views to government, will be released within the next couple of weeks according to the head of smart energy at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Speaking on Tuesday at an event in London organised by private group Policy-UK, Beth Chaudhary gave the clearest indication yet from government about when the document will be released.
“The consultation will be out in the next couple of weeks, I know you've heard that before but I will put a 95% chance on that,” she said.
She also revealed that the document had been ready to publish as far back as May however due to the EU referendum vote followed by the changes in UK’s government, the release had been delayed.
Due to this, Chaudhary added that the government no longer expected to meet its spring 2017 deadline for proposals stemming from the consultation process, and is now aiming for “the first half of next year”.
While it was originally trailed as a call for evidence, Chaudhary explained that the upcoming document would be a “light green paper”, constituting a mix between a green paper, asking for views on a range of areas, and a white paper - setting out a series of proposals already settled on by BEIS.
Among these is the issue of storage’s definition within UK legislation, which has proved to be one of the most significant issues facing the growing UK sector. Currently, the technology is classified as generation in the absence of its own specified definition and asset class, leading to a multitude of related issues.
The delay in publication of BEIS’ paper has meant no progress has been made in this area however Chaudhary suggested that the government may seek to fast track a solution to this specific issue.
“In the absence of us being able to publish this consultation when we'd hoped to when it was ready back in May, we've kept consulting on the definition anyway. We feel we've had lots of engagement and we've got a fairly consensual position on the definition.
“We are not going to falsely hold back the progress towards legislation because of the consultation process on this particular element because it is quite well understood and agreed upon. We know it’s slow but we're already trying to progress that and we already feel like we've consulted appropriately even if it hasn't been through formal usual means,” she said.
It is unclear what form this legislation will take, or how it will progress ahead of other related policies. BEIS was unable to provide clarification over how this will be done, however it is expected that provisions will be included in an existing piece of legislation due to pass ahead of a new bill to be developed following the consultation.
Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan, former shadow energy minister and chair of Tuesday’s event, said: “The question arises that you have find a piece of legislation in which to insert it and then have the appropriate [regulations] published thereafter.
“That's probably what will happen with this…but that's no excuse for not pressurising the buggers because you've got to keep kicking them in order to move it along.”
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