Urgent action to speed up electricity grid connections by up to 10 years

‘Get on, get back or get out of the energy queue,’ ESO warns energy generators, setting out milestones for progress. 

Energy generation is big news at the moment. We’ve recently run stories about solar arrays on the roofs of council buildings and businesses that save money on bills and lower CO2 emissions. Earlier this year, the UK was powered more by wind than gas. 

silhouette of wind turbine during sunset

In principle, such green energy projects ought to benefit all of us. Any excess energy created can be fed into the national grid, lowering energy bills for everyone. The more projects connect, the more we all benefit. At least, that’s the principle. 

The UK’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) underlines the scale of the challenge here. Some 220 projects are due to connect to the national system by 2026, providing a total of 40GW – more than double the peak demand of the whole UK during the summer. Yet just half of these have got planning consent, and some have put back their own connection dates by up to 14 years. 

ESO has already done work to accelerate connections, publishing a five-point plan in February that aimed to tackle the issues involved. Now, targeted reforms have been added to bring connections forward, in some cases by up to 10 years. 

In short, the reforms are described as ‘Get on, get back or get out of the energy queue.’ 

ESO has asked those seeking to connect to the transmission system for updates on progress and project milestones. Those not making progress will be moved back in the queue – or taken out of it completely – allowing more viable projects to move forward more rapidly. 

To better the manage the queue, ESO is also working with regulator Ofgem on changes to the way connection contracts are handled. This follows recommendations by the Code Panel in charge of changes to the codes that govern the energy industry. 

ESO promises a common-sense approach to the milestones it wants projects to meet: raising finance, buying land, obtaining planning permission and breaking ground. It also understands that delays can often be outside the control of developments – where that happens, ‘developers will not be negatively impacted by these changes’ says the ESO statement. 

To ensure that the checking and verifying of progress is fair, ESO will have the support of an international engineering consultancy and legal firm. 

ESO also announced that the connection of battery storage projects, which make up 34% of current projects in the queue, will be accelerated. What’s more, it is looking at ways to enable developers to build their own connections into the grid beyond the current 2km limit. will, of course, keep a close eye on developments…

Photo by Katrina Berban


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