Getting new energy generation projects up and running and delivering energy to people who need them in the form that they need may seem to hinge on getting the technology to work and/or getting the required financing and other resources in place.
However, it can often hinge on approvals. Those could be for planning for constructing the generation facility, health and safety approvals but what has been a bottle neck in recent times is approval to connect to the grid.
In the UK, the Electricity Systems Operator (ESO) managers all users wanting to utilise or connect to the National Electricity Transmission System (NETS) or 'the grid'.
Given that there is limited network capacity, applications to connect to the grid for both generation and demand have been manged on a 'first to contract, first to connect' principle. That means that applications were considered strictly in time order regardless of how well those projects were progressing against contracted milestones.
The queue of applications has been getting filled with 'phantom projects' - those that are not progressing well or even at all where developers may not have land rights or applied for planning consent. As a result, waiting times for some new solar and wind sites to connect to the grid were getting to be 10 - 15 years according to BBC research.
However, this week, Ofgem has approved code modification CMP376, which ESO originally proposed back in July 2021 and submitted in October 2021, which essentially grants ESO power to terminate projects holding up the grid connection queue 👇🏾
From 27th November, ESO will be contacting all customers with existing or in-flight connection agreements to either have queue management milestones incorporated into their existing connection date or submit a new application, but in addition ESO has commissioned an independent engineering consultancy to review 144 'potentially high-risk' projects accounting for approximately 29GW of capacity and with connection dates before the end of 2025.
Now that a big bottleneck to getting viable renewable projects connected to the grid has been removed it is also important to ensure that the grid can manage those new projects as well as changes in demand for electricity that a more electrified ecosystem will bring. Grid stability will be key.
Link to blog 👇🏾
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