Energy regulator Ofgem has said that it will allow a temporary relaxation from the rules governing the electricity networks to speed up connections for low-carbon generators (PDF).
The temporary relaxation is to the rules for connection to and use of the high-voltage electricity networks. It means any generator wanting to seek an earlier connection date can now do so by approaching National Grid.
This means that 450 megawatts of small and large wind farms in Scotland can get connected to the grid as soon as they are ready. Other generators that come forward — including other renewable generators and thermal generators — will also benefit from the same approach, according to Ofgem.
It’s expected that some of the generators could start to connect this year.
Ofgem said the temporary relaxation of rules is an interim solution to speed up connections while more enduring reforms are introduced.
“A large queue of renewable projects is awaiting connection to Britain’s networks and being flexible in how we apply the industry rules is an innovative way of speeding up connections in the short-term,” said Steve Smith, Ofgem’s managing director, networks. “This decision means low-carbon projects (whether seeking connection to the transmission or distribution systems) will no longer be delayed by the need to invest in the grid. The new approach will also help other generators in comparable circumstances.”
“Sorting out the queue for connection to the grid is vital to getting the massive expansion of renewables that we need in the UK,” said Mike O’Brien, minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. “We want to make it as seamless as possible for renewable and other generators to come online as soon as they need to. This decision means that any project wanting to seek an earlier connection to the grid can now request this from National Grid. More home grown renewable generation means more secure energy supplies. Renewables are also instrumental in cutting carbon emissions and dealing with climate change.”
The revised approach comes on the heels of Ofgem’s approval last month of funding of £12.5 million so that National Grid Electricity Transmission and Scottish Power Transmission can start feasibility studies and preparatory work on the investment needed to support new renewable generation connections to meet the UK’s 2020 energy targets.