British grid operator unveils reforms for faster connections
Wind and solar together. Author: Gerry Machen.
Britain’s electricity system operator National Grid ESO on Friday announced reforms to accelerate connections to the electricity grid.
The grid operator described the changes as ‘get on, get back or get out of the energy queue’ and said they will enable projects to connect up to 10 years earlier. Energy generators that are not progressing their projects will be able to choose to move backwards or leave the queue to make room for projects that are moving forward.
National Grid said it will be assisted by an international engineering consultancy and a legal firm in verifying projects’ progress. The developments will need to meet milestones such as raising financing, buying land, securing planning permission and breaking ground.
According to the announcement, 220 projects are scheduled to connect to the transmission system before 2026, totalling about 40 GW, which is more than double Great Britain’s peak demand in the summer. Only half of them, however, have planning consent at the moment.
RenewableUK said the reforms are a significant step forward as they will unlock new clean energy capacity faster.
According to the group’s director of future electricity systems, Barnaby Wharton, grid connection delays are holding back GBP 15 billion (USD 18.8bn/EUR 17.5bn) of investment in offshore wind alone over the course of the current decade.
“The next key step forward would be for Ministers to sign off the amendment to the Energy Bill currently going through Parliament to give the regulator Ofgem a new remit which specifically puts achieving the government’s net zero goal at the heart of every decision it takes,” Wharton also said.