Green light for amnesty to free up 8GW of capacity for grid connection backlog

Ofgem has agreed to allow National Grid to implement an amnesty for up to 50 energy transmission developments that are contributing to a logjam for new, renewable projects trying to connect to the grid.

Each of these projects has signed a Transmission Entry Capacity (TEC) contract with National Grid agreeing to an amount of energy the project will export onto the grid as a generator and a date for when the energy will be generated. Effectively reserving a position in the queue for connection, however, a number of these 50 schemes have been delayed and are currently preventing other schemes that are viable - many of them for renewable energy - from being connected and coming onstream.

Currently, National Grid’s records show there are 1,444 projects on the TEC register.

The TEC amnesty - for stalled projects - is expected to free up 8GW of capacity in the grid connection pipeline allowing contracted projects to apply to terminate or reduce their TEC without incurring the usual fines.

The amnesty was first suggested by National Grid last year but has only just been agreed to by Ofgem. Developers that were interested had to apply for the amnesty between September 2022 and April this year to be eligible.

In an open letter agreeing to the amnesty, Ofgem market design deputy director Jack Presley Abbot said: “We understand the urgency with which improvements need to be made to connection timescales.

“Increasing application volumes (at all voltage levels) are putting greater pressure on systems and processes, which has meant that the number of new connection offers provided by National Grid has grown tenfold over the course of the last five years (and there has been an increase of 80% in the last year alone).

“The resulting size of the transmission queue is significant, with over 340GW of new generation now holding connection agreements.”

The TEC amnesty is one of the key parts of the National Grid’s Five Point Plan and its wider work on grid connection reformation to help address the backlog of projects waiting to be connected to the grid.

As the UK aims to reach net zero by 2050, renewable energy being used to power the grid is a vital component of that. In April, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) claimed 164GW of new connection requests were received in the past year up to October. This is more than twice the entire grid’s capacity with many of the new applications stuck in the queue being for renewable energy sources.

This was reiterated in June when the Local Government Association (LGA) warned there are 1,150 green energy projects in the UK that have received planning permission but cannot yet be built due to concerns around connecting to the grid.

Abbot continued: “[The TEC amnesty] allows for the timely removal of projects from the connections queue, with the aim of ultimately helping to better optimise the connections process and passing these benefits onto consumers.

“This will help mitigate delays in connection offers for customers by freeing up additional capacity.

“We understand from the information shared with us that the TEC amnesty is expected to remove up to 8GW of generation (across around 50 projects) holding transmission connection agreements.

“This therefore represents a clear opportunity to release capacity which is no longer required sooner than it otherwise would be, helping to improve connection timescales for customers.”

The amnesty will last until the end of September next year, when those who opted into the amnesty will have until then to agree to a formal withdrawal from their TEC.

Abbot stated: “Over 40% of all new generation capacity holding TEC agreements today have connection dates of 2030 or beyond, some as late as 2037.

“These impacts permeate into the distribution network, hinder the growth of new generation and ultimately slow Great Britain’s progress to net zero.

“There is a clear need to take action now to enable the optimisation of the connection queue to deliver improved connection dates and processes for customers.”

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