29 June 2016

Western Power Distribution (WPD) in partnership with Regen is establishing a new distributed generation owner/operator forum to improve communication between the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) and asset owner/operators – and in particular to address the impacts of grid outages and constraints. The forum is an indication of how the interaction between distributed renewable power and the grid continues to be a critical issue for the development of the sector – and the speed of change in the rules and approaches.

There are a range of initiatives in the pipeline coming from Ofgem’s ‘quicker and more efficient connections’ process.  DNO’s are becoming more innovative in the services they offer, including sending information back to developers more quickly, updating their data systems to provide greater forecasting detail on curtailment and outages, rolling out active network management zones and working more closely with National Grid on the statement of works process.

Significantly WPD has announced the removal of the F-route constraint by breaking the link between the Bridgwater and Seabank grid supply points.WPD is writing to customers with existing offers affected by the F route to remove this restriction and agree a programme of works for the connection of their site. New offers issued will also no longer include this restriction and you can find more information here.  There is no clear indication how the removal of this constraint will impact the grid queue or the availability of new capacity, but it is certainly a positive step that will help current projects in the south west licence area.

Another aspect that is being tackled by industry is the grid queue.  Driven by the recently closed Electricity Networks Association (ENA) consultation on “Fair and Effective Management of DNO Connection Queues: Progression Milestones”, DNO’s are looking at their current milestone requirements within connection agreements to strengthen their ability to recoup capacity from the grid queue if these milestones are not met.  Clearly a process that frees up capacity on the network by enforcing clear and consistent milestones is important to everybody involved. The results of the ENA consultation are not yet available but DNO’s are already reviewing their processes and speaking with industry on changes to connection agreement milestones. You can find a copy of the consultation here.

The more far reaching change starting to take shape is the shift from DNO to Distribution System Operator (DSO) with for a more active role in balancing supply and demand locally. We are already starting to see trials of DNOs offering incentives for innovative approaches to address local constraints on the network. This could provide new incentives for storage and demand side response measures.

Regen represents our sector on connection steering groups with WPD and Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) and will continue to work to enable distributed renewable energy to connect to the grid as efficiently as possible.