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United Kingdom

Slow grid links hold up projects

Delays in connecting new generators to the transmission and distribution networks has been holding up a raft of wind projects in Britain and have caused the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) to revise downwards its forecasts of new capacity coming online in 2002. In some areas of Britain, it can take up to 18 months from commissioning a grid study and receiving a connection offer, until a project is finally connected into the local network.

Some of the longest delays, however, have been in the north of Scotland, where projects have been awaiting Scottish and Southern Energy's (SSE) system of shallow connection charges, which has just been introduced. This means generators can avoid paying for deep reinforcement of the transmission system in exchange for allowing SSE to constrain their output for short periods at times when the relatively weak system is under stress. Generators will be compensated for being constrained.

SSE opted for its across the board adoption of shallow connection charges in agreement with energy regulator Ofgem. The company recognised that the previous system of deep connection costs was unsatisfactory -- particularly when all the reinforcement costs fell onto the first generator to connect into a weak part of the network. Among the projects held up until the new arrangement came into effect is SSE's own 13 MW wind farm at Tangy, on Kintyre.

There need to be "positive incentives" for Distribution Network Operators to connect renewables, says David Farrier of Powergen Renewables. The company's Deucheran Hill wind farm on Kintyre was delayed a year while Powergen challenged SSE's quotation for connection. This led to SSE agreeing to a shallow connection charges and a generator management scheme -- very similar to the system the company has just introduced.

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