U.K. agency: Streamline grid permitting to link new renewables

The United Kingdom’s Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) has issued a report outlining short-term measures to speed up the connection of new renewable energy projects, including hydropower, to the U.K. electricity grid.

The report, requested by the government in an Energy White Paper issued in May, said progress has been made, but further action can be taken to help ensure transmission network operators can connect viable projects more quickly, even as a longer-term review is under way.

�A rapid expansion in renewable generation has led to a queue of 12 GW of generation waiting to connect in Scotland,� Ofgem said October 10. �It is unlikely that all of this generation will get built due to planning or finance issues.�

All told, Ofgem predicted 45,000 MW of renewable and gas-fired generation could be seeking interconnection in the next nine years.

�While Ofgem has allowed the investment to connect viable new generation, key network projects are now mired in the planning process, which could lead to delays in generators getting connected,� Ofgem Chief Executive Alistair Buchanan said.

Buchanan said more can be done to give priority to connection of generators that have both planning permission and financing to quickly build their projects.

The agency said some progress has been made, noting first steps have been taken to allow interconnected generators to temporarily share capacity with renewable generators seeking a connection. It added an interim arrangement has been made so generators can make a commitment to obtain a connection without having to pay high up-front costs to transmission companies covering the work needed to build the connection.

Ofgem and the Department for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform are to publish proposals in December for long-term reform of the interconnection process. The current report on short-term access may be obtained from the Internet at www.ofgem.gov.uk.

Ofgem already has authorized major increases in grid investments to connect more renewables. In late 2004, investment of 560 million pounds (US$1.138 billion) was announced to reinforce high-voltage networks in Scotland and northern England. More recently, Ofgem authorized investment of more than 3.8 billion pounds (US$7.7 billion) in Britain’s transmission networks.

The Energy White Paper issued in May proposed incentives for a secure, low-carbon energy mix and offered to double the current level of Renewable Obligation Credits for wave and tidal power projects. (HNN 5/25/07)

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