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UK government proposes faster grid access for renewable energy

UK Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, has proposed to address the way power plants are connected to the UK’s power grid in the hope of getting new generation, including renewable energy, connected faster.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says in a statement: “The shake-up will help new projects waiting to get a date to feed electricity into the grid to get out of the queue, and will in particular help renewable energy projects such as wind farms.”

Currently 60 GW of new electricity generation is waiting to be connected to the grid, of which 17 GW is from renewable energy.

Under the current system, new generation, including renewable energy, has been connected on a first come first serve basis regardless of when the projects can actually start generating electricity. According to DECC, this means some windfarms, for example, were given grid connection years after they were due to start producing renewable energy.

Miliband says: “Access to the grid has been one of the key barriers to the generation of renewable energy in this country. … We need these new projects to get hooked up to the grid as soon as they are ready – both to help tackle climate change and secure our future energy supplies.

“The government will do whatever is necessary to bring about the transition to a low carbon economy and to give investors the certainty they need so that new renewable energy generation is built.”

DECC proposes three models:

  • Connect and manage (socialised): Cost will be shared between all users of the network;
  • Connect and manage (hybrid): A model that targets some, but not all, of the additional constraint costs on new entrant power stations;
  • Connect and manage (shared cost and commitment): A model that offers the choice to new and existing power stations to commit to the network (which is helpful to the grid in terms of long term management of the system) in return for greater certainty over charges, or to opt out and be exposed to additional constraint costs.

Ofgem has already approved interim arrangements, which so far have seen 1 GW of renewable energy projects in Scotland being offered earlier connection dates. The UK government says it wants to ensure that these arrangements are put fully in place by June 2010.

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