Electricity costs are escalating and likely to remain high in the short to medium term. A number of companies are considering repurposing back-up generators to produce a regular supply of electricity to replace some or all of the electricity currently taken from the grid. This should result in a considerable cost saving. However, there are a number of regulatory matters such as permitting, licensing and planning to deal with. Care must also be taken to ensure that increased use of the generators doesn't cause a nuisance from noise and fumes which could result in legal action against the company.
A permit is generally required to change the use of a generator from back-up to regular electricity production. The requirements apply to generators of 1 MW or more but less than 50 MW but two or more generators on one site may be aggregated for the purposes of the threshold. Even back-up generators which are not repurposed in this way will require permits in due course: immediately in the case of newer generators or in 2024 or 2029 depending on whether the generators are more than 5 MW. Permit conditions limit emissions to the air of certain pollutants which generally require the use of pollution abatement equipment to achieve. The rules are complex and require careful consideration as to how they apply in individual cases.
Companies will also need a licence under the Electricity Act 1989 to generate electricity unless an exemption applies.
Increasing the use of generators should not need planning permission but existing planning permissions should be checked for any conditions which may prohibit that increased use.
Using back-up generators to produce regular electricity supplies can save on corporate energy bills but these savings need to be balanced against the costs and time involved in meeting the regulatory requirements.
If your business is considering repurposing back-up generators to produce a regular supply of electricity and to replace some or all of the electricity currently taken from the grid, get in touch with our energy and regulatory experts to learn more about the implications such as permitting, licensing and planning.