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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

UK electricity networks accelerate grid connections of more than 200 energy projects


Looking skywards from base of electricity pylon, up through the metalwork to blue sky and sunburst Photo: Shutterstock
A new collaborative project – the Technical Limits programme – is helping to speed up and reform connections to the UK’s electricity grid

Photo: Shutterstock

Some 7.8 GW of clean energy projects in the UK, more than double the output of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, have had their connection offer dates brought forward by up to 10 years through the new Technical Limits programme, which is allowing projects to connect to lower-voltage distribution networks prior to reinforcement of the high-voltage transmission network, reports National Grid.

The Technical Limits programme is a collaborative project from National Grid Electricity Transmission, Energy Networks Association, the Electricity System Operator (ESO) and the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs).


Networks have sent offers to 203 projects, totalling 7.8 GW, with an average connection acceleration of 6.5 years. In total, 393 projects are eligible for the programme. The further 190 projects are said to be able to receive accelerated offers once they have progressed through the connection offer process.


Last month, Blackfinch Energy’s 24 MW-capacity Horsey Levels solar farm in Somerset became the first project to be energised under the scheme, connecting to National Grid’s electricity distribution network significantly ahead of its original planned connection date.


Meanwhile, UK Power Networks reports that 25 projects amounting to 836 MW of generation are now set to connect as soon as they can build, under a fast-track scheme. This new generation amounts to roughly one-fifth of the peak demand of the London distribution network, says the DNO. Customers who have had connection offers accepted include a 98 MW solar farm in the east of England and a 100 MW combined storage and solar site in the south-east.


To deliver the accelerated offers, engineers from National Grid and DNOs analysed power flows across the boundaries between the transmission and distribution networks. By agreeing new power flow limits, DNOs have been able to offer selected projects an accelerated connection date before transmission network reinforcements are complete, on the understanding that the DNO can limit flows from the project under certain operating conditions. The 203 connection offers that have been issued in the first phase have an average export curtailment of 22% per year. National Grid expects that in the long term these interim arrangements will be replaced as network capacity increases.


Jack Presley Abbott, Ofgem Deputy Director for Strategic Planning and Connections, comments: ‘We’re now beginning to see the benefits of connections reform initiatives and we welcome the accelerated grid connections that the Technical Limits project is starting to deliver. However, there is still much more to do. Many projects are still facing years of delay to connect to the grid. That’s why we’re continuing to work closely with the ESO, network operators, industry and government to ensure the range of reforms set out in the Connections Action Plan are driven through as quickly and effectively as possible to expedite the process for projects that are ready to connect to the grid.’


Great Grid Partnership
National Grid has also launched what it claims is a ‘pioneering enterprise model’ in response to the UK supply chain and skills shortage, announcing the first seven supply chain partners to form a ‘Great Grid Partnership’ that will help build the significant new electricity network infrastructure required to reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels by connecting 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030.


Designed to speed up the delivery of national electricity infrastructure, the Partnership aims to ‘coordinate the planning and execution of projects, allowing each supplier and National Grid to pool their resources, skills, insights and experience to deliver faster and more economically – driving value for money and benefits for both consumers and local communities’. Two design and consenting service partners – AECOM Arup (joint venture) and WSP, and five construction partners – Laing O’Rourke, Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, Morrison Energy Services, Murphy and Omexom/Taylor Woodrow (OTW) – are joining National Grid.


UK’s largest electricity supplier
In other news, Octopus Energy is now officially the UK’s largest electricity supplier – only eight years after launching to the market, according to industry watchdog Ofgem.


The company has gained more than 1.9 million (net) customers since 1Q2023, reaching a market share of 22% with 6.8 million households served by Octopus. The company also claims to have led the switching market in 2023, with more than 800,000 customers choosing to join from other suppliers – equating to one new customer per minute. In addition, 1.3 million households transferred over from Shell Energy Retail following Octopus’ takeover of the business in late 2023.