The UK’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) has announced a new approach to connections management, which aims to remove stalled projects taking space on the register so it can connect new projects more quickly.
The Transmission Entry Capacity (TEC) register orders the queue for connections to the national electricity transmission network and includes all projects that seek a connection offer. Those on the register whose projects are unlikely to reach delivery are being given the opportunity to leave the register at no cost or at a reduced fee.
It is hoped that this will facilitate a faster connection for new projects, and is one of a number of actions the ESO, in partnership with Transmission Owners (TO’s), is undertaking to support the delivery of a net-zero electricity network by 2035 and 50 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.
Reducing the number of projects on the TEC Register will also provide the ESO with a clearer view of future capacity requirements for the network and will speed up the connections process for projects needed to reach 2030 and 2035 Government targets. This approach is supported by Ofgem and the TO’s in Scotland, England and Wales.
Developers will have between the 1st of October and the 30th of November 2022 to apply to leave the connections register.
Julian Leslie, ESO head of networks, National Grid ESO, said: “We are here to help build a system of the future that is clean, reliable and fair. We realise that to deliver net-zero, we need to free up space on the connections register so that new low-carbon projects can connect much more quickly.
“This new initiative will help to address issues developers have faced in securing connections and will save consumers money by streamlining the use of our existing network and reducing the need for additional infrastructure, which can take time and significant investment to deliver.”
More effective Queue Management (QM) arrangements will also need to be implemented. To that end, the ESO has raised a code modification, CMP 376, under the Connection and Use of System Code (CUSC), to formally introduce QM arrangements. This modification is subject to approval.
QM will mean that projects which are ready to connect can do so ahead of those customer projects that may have applied earlier but are not ready or able to progress – currently the ESO are unable to prioritise the queue based on readiness to connect.
At the simplest level, if implemented, QM will introduce contractual milestones that customers must meet to retain their place in the connection queue, which will benefit everyone.
The TEC Amnesty and QM reforms are to address short term challenges for transmission connections, combined with more holistic reforms to deliver enduring solutions for transmission connections as the electricity system rapidly evolves. These include a review of construction planning assumptions to ensure processes are recognisant of the changes in volume of contracted generation and technologies; a review of storage modelling, so that the latest evidence is reflected in how network needs are assessed; and the development of regional plans looking across the whole electricity system to unlock more network capacity and reduce constraints.