The UK’s National Grid announced plans to accelerate up to 20GW of energy projects to its electricity transmission and distribution networks in England and Wales. Nineteen battery projects representing 10GW will receive plug-in dates some four years earlier than current agreements.
National Grid said it is introducing a new approach which removes the need for non-essential pre-connection engineering works.
The new policy is part of its connections reform initiative done jointly with National Grid Electricity Transmission.
On its distribution network in the Midlands, south-west England and south Wales, the additional 10GW of unlocked capacity announced in September is set to accelerate the connection of scores of low carbon technology projects, it said. This will bring forward some “shovel-ready” schemes by up to five years.
National Grid is in contact with over 200 projects interested in fast tracking their distribution connection dates in the first wave of the capacity release. It said 16 are interested in connecting in the next 12 months with another 180 looking to connect in 2–5 years.
It said the accelerated 20GW follows months of work and engagement with industry, the regulator Ofgem and government to find innovative solutions to make plugging in projects faster and more flexible.
National Grid normally carries out network reinforcements before a project plugs in on the assumption that batteries could charge at peak times and export when generation is high.
It said it will now offer selected battery projects a transmission connection before network reinforcements are made. This will be on the agreement that the electricity system operator can adjust battery behaviour in certain operating conditions to reduce system impact.
A further tranche of projects – primarily batteries and batteries co-located with wind or solar – will be offered accelerated transmission connections as part of another phase anticipated in 2024. That could bring forward another 10GW, it added.
Alice Delahunty, President of National Grid Electricity Transmission, said: “We’re committed to speeding up connections and creating a ‘fit for the future’ process for plugging projects into the grid.”
A second expression of interest is being rolled out to the next group of customers. It plans to replace the ‘first come, first served’ distribution connections process with a more dynamic ‘first ready, first connected’ approach.