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Short term fix to speed grid connection
1 July 2008
The British government and energy regulator Ofgem have agreed to a short-term fix to speed up the connection of new renewable generation to the transmission system. A "connect and manage" approach, rather than "wires before connection," is to be adopted to deal with a backlog of around 10 GW of wind energy projects at various stages of development waiting in the queue for grid access. This is one of the measures unveiled in the final report of the Transmission Access Review undertaken by the government and Ofgem. The report was published alongside the government's renewable energy strategy proposal (page 49) and will form part of the public consultation on that document. Renewable generators should be offered firm connection dates consistent with the development time of their project, states the report. Transmission companies must have incentives to invest in wires and equipment to meet long term demand by renewable generators and to encourage innovation to make best use of existing capacity on their networks, and generators should be offered a choice in how they access the system -- paying more for guaranteed long term access or shorter term variable priced access rights. Ofgem is to consider a number of models for access reform, but it is expected to take at least 18 months before final arrangements are implemented. Meantime, the "connect and manage" approach by system operators will allow projects to proceed while the reforms are being implemented. The British Wind Energy Association has been pushing for this solution for several years. As well as speeding project connection, it will allow sharing of available wires capacity and connection of some generation ahead of reinforcement. The government and Ofgem say 1 GW of new renewables could be connected within two years, with those that have requested connection dates this year and next being the first to benefit.
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