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FEATURE SPONSOR


GRID CONNECTIONS


RENEWABLE ENERGY SUPPLY CHALLENGES


Most wind projects connect to the UK’s distribution network: the wood- pole lines and substations at voltages of 132kV or lower. Traditionally a relatively quick and low-cost option, problems have arisen as the growth in renewables has led to large power flows out of the distribution network and onto the transmission network.


This transmission network, comprising the major infrastructure at voltages of up to 400kV, is expensive and time-consuming to upgrade.


Prohibitive timescales and the need to provide an upfront security deposit for transmission upgrades have affected a huge number of potential wind projects. To make matters worse, developers cannot obtain reliable information about these costs and timescales until approximately six months after accepting their grid connection offer.


STATEMENT OF WORKS Often, applicants have to go through the bureaucratic ‘Statement of Works’ process, where the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) pass on a series of requests to the Transmission Owners (TOs) to find out what upgrades are required. Any generators which might affect the transmission network have to go through this process - this includes all generation projects above 1MW in Scotland and lots of projects in Wales and the south of England.


It is a good idea to estimate the potential impact of Statement of Works in advance and TNEI regularly provide clients with forecasts of costs and timescales.


IMPROVING THE PROCESS DNOs and TOs are working hard to improve the process, with the first changes already bearing fruit and a more radical overhaul in the pipeline. Stage 1 - a payment and form asking the TOs whether or not upgrades are needed - has been scrapped, because DNOs now know the answer for each part of the grid.


Furthermore, in July 2015 the Connection and Use of Systems Code was changed to reduce the securities paid by generators connecting via the distribution network.


They are now on a level playing field with those connecting directly to the transmission network.


DNO WORKING GROUP A working group of DNOs, TOs and National Grid is proposing to scrap the process entirely and encourage the DNOs and TOs to share information from a much earlier stage.


DNOs will therefore be able to give details of transmission upgrades, costs and timescales in their grid connection offers.


BENEFITS


This change will be complicated to implement, but will remove months of uncertainty, bureaucracy and costs, bringing welcome benefits to wind projects across the country.


TNEI Services


www.windenergynetwork.co.uk


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