National Grid Electricity Distribution, the DNO for the English Midlands, South West and South Wales, has launched ClearViewConnect, a new reporting tool intended to make the connections pipeline clearer, simpler and faster for its customers.
Developed, says the operator, from extensive engagement with connections counterparties, the report unites for the first time data selected to shorten connections waits for green power generators and storage operators.
The ClearViewConnect platform allows customers to look up any grid supply point (GSP) in their license areas and access technical data, including capacity and updates on network reinforcement tasks.
The report will also provide an anonymised view of the pipeline of generation connections for a specific GSP, allowing customers to see what their connection timeline could look like and anticipate any loss of availability, should their desired hook-up be accelerated.
Information provided by the report will help developers reach decisions on green generation projects, allowing them to identify the best connection point for their assets and also understand interactions with other connections and capacities nearby.
Over 2023 National Grid has talked to three of its largest generating customers – Octopus Energy, RWE and Severn Trent – to develop the report.
Presented as the first of its kind from a DNO, the portal brings together valuable connections data and insights for customers and developers in an easy format. It will tell developers in quest of connections which network area offers them the most realistic prospect of quickest, cheapest links.
A further benefit to the DNO itself and to developers, Clearview’s backers believe, will be exposing as redundant alternative requests for links, lodged by developers as risk-spreaders in the connections process. Less attractive schemes should drop from the connections pipeline, shortening wait queues for all applicants.
The operator is eager to share with other DNOs its know-how acquired in building the information tool. Its launch follows Ofgem’s recent announcement on robust milestone management.
National Grid ED intends working with customers, accumulating their feedback in quest of tweaks and amendments yielding more value.
The DNO’s president Cordi O’Hara declared: “We’ve set about finding practical ways to accelerate connections and the delivery of key green energy and infrastructure projects.
“We are also keen to work with the rest of the industry to share the learnings and model from this process, so that they can be easily replicated by individual DNOs as an offer to their customers.”
Responding from Ofgem, interim director for network pricing Steve McMahon enthused: “This is a welcome step forward.
“Improving the transparency and consistency of data for network users is core to Ofgem’s Data Best Practice Guidance. We are pleased to see NGED making more data available. We encourage them, and all networks, to continue to work closely with their customers, and each other, to ensure that the provision of network and connections data across GB, for all parts of the system, is co-ordinated and responsive to stakeholder needs.”
Octopus Energy Generation’s boss Zoisa North-Bond commented: “Long and opaque connection queues are preventing customers from fully benefiting from low-cost green power, while stopping developers from making the best decisions about where to invest.
“We congratulate Cordi‘s team for providing more visibility of projects in the queues in their network. I look forward to seeing other networks follow suit.”
Northern Powergrid capo Phil Jones said; “Our company has been working at pace to speed up grid connections for our customers. We recognise the importance of making transparent and accurate data available to customers for them to plan their projects confidently.
“National Grid’s collaborative lead on the website means that we are quickly able to adopt it enabling our customers at all stages of their project to assess the viability of the project from the outset and find the best point for their connection. This is excellent progress in helping our customers with greener energy solutions, and we at Northern Powergrid are continuing to work on improvements, alongside our fellow DNO’s, to enable our customers to get connected much faster and more efficiently.”
Besides ClearViewConnect, National Grid is developing a suite of tools to support wider industry reform of the connections process. To view the report, look here.