Siting and Permitting

Although DE still faces many obstacles related to siting and permitting arguably this is one of the main competitive advantages DE offers over central generation. The larger a power plant the more likely it will face local opposition and construction delays; and the resultant budget overshoots. In short the NIMBY (not in my backyard) phenomenon is less likely to be a problem in the context of DE plants as it is for large imposing central plants. The small footprint and modularity of DE technologies give them an important advantage over larger centralized tehcnologies. This technological advantage is likely to increase in importance as demand for energy increases and people become more active in opposing large projects they find offensive.

DE technologies, although less likely to face public opposition, still face their share of siting and permitting challenges however. The particular challenges depends on the DE technology being employed but some of the common issues include:

  • zoning bilaws,
  • construction regulations and guidelines,
  • general planning guidelines,
  • heritage designations,
  • resource access (obstructions to wind and solar resource such as neighbouring buildings, etc)..

In the case of thermal DE technologies there may also be additional concerns related to:

  • local air quality regulations,
  • indoor air quality standards,
  • fuel availability (gas pipline, biomass transportation infrastructure, etc.).

None of these challenges in and of themselves pose insurmountable barriers to DE investment but several siting issues together, especially in conjunction with some of the other main DE obstacles can add to the cost and time required for those trying to invest in DE projects. Partly because DE projects have a much smaller footprint the cost associated with siting per unit output is considerably higher for larger projects than for DE.