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Interconnection is a pain in the UK, too. Here’s National Grid’s plan to speed things up

Voltage transmission lines above city. Courtesy National Grid ESO.

National Grid ESO in the UK is initiating a five-point plan to expedite grid connections for electricity transmission-related projects.

The Electricity System Operator’s (ESO) analysis shows that only 30-40% of transmission projects in the queue make it to fruition, but the queue operates on a first-come-first-served basis.

This can result in projects further up the queue holding back those that are more readily able to supply the UK with needed energy, even if those further up the queue are not ready to plug in.

The plan is the ESO’s resolution for the short term, a five-point plan to speed up connections as follows:

  1. Operating a Transmission Entry Capacity Amnesty until April 2023, allowing developers to terminate their connection contracts without incurring liabilities, freeing up capacity in the queue.
  2. Updating modeling assumptions to reflect current connection rates and reducing the assumption that most projects in the queue will connect.
  3. Changing the treatment of storage, including batteries, on the network to allow them to connect faster and free up capacity for other projects.
  4. Developing new contractual terms for connection contracts to manage the queue more efficiently so that those projects that are progressing can connect and those that are not can leave the queue.
  5. A ‘soon-to-be-made’ offer of an interim option for storage projects to connect to the network sooner, but with the caveat that they may be required to turn off more frequently when the system is under stress without initially being paid to do so.  

This, however, is a short-term resolution.

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The existing connections process in the UK was designed 20 years ago for a time when connection applications were made by a small number of large fossil fuel generators.

The country’s progress on decarbonization has led to a large volume of applications to connect to the electricity transmission system.

Connections applications now come from a diverse range of generation and storage projects at varying sizes and scales across Great Britain. Therefore, there is a need for wider reform.

Julian Leslie, ESO Head of Networks and Chief Engineer, said: “We recognize the frustration some of our connections customers are experiencing and through this package of short-term initiatives and longer-term reforms we are determined to address the challenges with the current process which was not designed to operate the sheer scale of applications we are receiving today.”

The ESO has begun a program of longer-term reform as part of its Connections Reform Project. The project is now in the design phase to identify longer-term solutions, to be set out in the coming months before implementation later this year.

Originally published by Yusuf Latief at Smart Energy International

Read the full article here

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