UK Aims to Fast-Track Renewable Energy Projects’ Grid Connection

Ofgem, the U.K.’s energy regulator, has introduced new rules to unclog the electricity grid connection queue, specifically targeting the pace of connecting renewable energy and storage projects to the grid.

The regulator is working to expedite over 90% of queued megawatt-scale projects slated for connection dates in 2030 and beyond.

The rules integrate milestone-driven queue management to accelerate grid connections, eliminate stalled projects hindering high-voltage transmission lines, and advance net-zero energy generation and storage targets.

These measures will boost queue efficiency, freeing up about 30 GW for immediate-generation projects, representing roughly 55% of peak electricity demand. The new policy, aligned with the National Grid Electricity System Operator’s (NGESO) plan, targets faster connection dates and increased capacity addition to the network.

The shift signifies a departure from the longstanding ‘first-come, first-served’ system, which has left an excess of energy projects capable of generating 400 GW of electricity, surpassing the country’s actual needs.

The NGESO will execute these queue management measures from November 27, 2023, impacting new and existing grid connection agreements.

Delays in viable projects, especially those hindered by stalled or non-viable counterparts, are posing a threat to the country’s net-zero targets. The measures, when implemented, will address unviable projects and support renewable energy to meet the growing energy demand, factoring in a 1.6% rise in Q3 2023 energy consumption compared to 2021, per the UK Energy Statistics report.

Ofgem’s policy revision has been shaped by input from over 100 industry stakeholders, addressing pivotal insights, including those highlighted in RenewableUK’s report, which proposes an 85 GW wind energy expansion contingent on effectively addressing grid connection.

Earlier this year, the U.K. awarded 11 GW of renewable projects, with 7 GW allocated to wind energy, as part of the initiative to deploy renewable technologies and achieve 95% low-carbon electricity by 2030.

Last year, the U.K. introduced its Energy Security Strategy, supported by a £100 billion (~$130.23 billion) investment, to expedite renewables and improve electricity supply efficiency, with targets like achieving 50 GW offshore wind capacity by 2030.

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