Electricity networks in England and Wales have enabled grid connection dates offered to over 200 clean energy projects to be brought forward, the National Grid claims.

Renewable energy projects totalling 7.8GW in new capacity – more than double that of the still uncompleted Hinkley Point C nuclear plant – , have had their offer dates brought forward by as much as a decade, thanks to the Technical Limits programme.

The programme allows solar, wind and other generators to hook into lower voltage distribution grids of up to 133kV, even before reinforcements are completed to national transmission networks, which operate at between 220kV and 440kV.

According to the National Grid, network operators have this year sent offers to 203 projects totalling 7.8GW, achieving what NG claims is an average connection shortening of 6.5 years.

In total 393 projects are eligible for Technical Limits with the further 190 projects able to receive accelerated offers once they have progressed through the connection offer process.

Last month Horsey Levels, a solar farm near Bridgwater, pictured, became the first project to be energised under the scheme. A PV park generating for a notional 10,000 homes, Horsey Levels was connected to National Grid’s distribution network ahead of its original planned connection date.

Strenuously urged on foot-dragging netcos by developers, Ofgem and ministers, the ‘Technical Limits’ regime represents unprecedented collaboration between NG Electricity Transmission, the Energy Networks Association, the Electricity System Operator and regional DNOs.

Scottish Transmission & Distribution network owners have also been involved in developing the Technical Limits programme and are in the process of rolling out the programme in their licence areas.

Welcoming the NG’s announcement, Justin Tomlinson MP, Graham Stuart’s recent replacement as D-ESNZ minister of state, said:

“Thanks to a team effort, over 200 clean energy projects will be connected to our grid earlier. It means thousands of homes and businesses will be powered by more renewable energy generated in Britain.

We are delivering the biggest reforms to the network since the 1950s – allowing us to hook more renewables up to the grid so households and businesses can benefit from cleaner, cheaper electricity,” Tomlinson added.

By agreeing new limits on maximum power flow, DNOs have been able to offer their chosen projects an accelerated connection date, sometimes before reinforcements are made to the 144kV transmission network are completed.

Advanced connections carry an obligation on a site’s developers that the DNO can limit flows from the project under certain operating conditions.

The 203 connection offers that have been issued in the first phase have an average export curtailment of 22% per year. Parties expect that in the long term these interim arrangements will be replaced as network capacity increases.

Alice Delahunty, President of National Grid Electricity Transmission added: “Connecting projects to our transmission network, and unlocking capacity at lower voltage distribution networks, is a massive priority for us.

“The Technical Limits programme is a fantastic example of cross-industry collaboration. This team effort has delivered an innovative solution to connect schemes more quickly. We’re pleased to see the first project connect earlier than expected and look forward to many more”.


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