United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Disappointment over no change to grid access policy

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A hoped for change of approach to connecting wind farms to the electricity grid is not to be found among the latest proposals for investment in the wires by Britain's energy regulator. From the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) Gordon Edge is disappointed that Ofgem did not authorise moving towards a more flexible grid access policy to reduce delays in connection. Ofgem's new price controls give the go-ahead to £5 billion of investment in the wires over the next five years -- double the amount authorised under the previous controls -- including some £1 billion to pave the way for new renewable generation, says Ofgem. Of this, £500,000 was already sanctioned last year to allow urgent upgrades to take place. But with some 10-12 GW of renewables hoping to hook up to the grid in Scotland, the wind industry and government had hoped the regulator would approve a new way of managing the queue for connections. Under the present "invest then connect" regime, necessary grid capacity must be available before wind developers can connect. This often means a wait of up to ten or even 20 years. In its energy review document in 2006, the government pushed the wind industry's proposal for the "connect and manage" approach adopted on the European continent, in which the system operator constrains some generation at times when grid capacity is exceeded. The government believes this could speed 2 GW of renewables within three years. It now looks likely that any changes to connection rules will be introduced under new codes of practice. "But we would have preferred an enduring solution under the price control review," says Edge.

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