Releasing capacity and enabling connections
You may have heard about national issues regarding delays to electricity grid connections recently. We want to provide a bit of background information – including our role as your local distribution network operator.
Nationally there are lots of issues due to unprecedented requests for capacity on the national electricity transmission network operated by National Grid.
Some customers who want to connect to the local distribution network are impacted by these transmission constraints.
Generation applications with an installed capacity of 1MW or greater must be given ‘transmission consent’ by National Grid and this is where restrictions are impacting customers across the country.
The majority of delays in connection dates are driven by the works required at transmission level (ie, National Grid) to facilitate the scheme, rather than the distribution level (our local network).
New local distribution connections applications might be restricted where there is not enough capacity at the National Grid level, or where the connections pipeline is being blocked by projects that are not being progressed quickly by other customers.
These transmission constraints do not impact standard (single phase) domestic connections for electric vehicle chargers, heat pumps and solar panel installations.
There are currently no large projects (over 1MW) held up in the North West solely by capacity issues on the distribution network, but we’re not complacent.
We’ve released almost 1 Gigawatt of capacity already through amending our connection policies to reflect real-world usage of the network.
What’s being done nationally?
The industry is working together to try and speed up the connections process for areas where this is an issue. Network operators have launched the Accelerating Customer Connections Action Plan through the Energy Networks Association. And National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) also has a Five Point Plan to reform the connections process.
To speed up connections, the whole industry is working towards changing from a ‘first come, first served’ model to a ‘first ready, first connected’. If projects are ‘shovel ready’, they move up the transmission pipeline in certain situations.
What are we doing in the North West?
We’re taking our responsibilities seriously, engaging with industry and taking five key preventative actions to ensure that there is enough capacity for generators and businesses that want to connect to the local grid:
Spring clean: Along with other distribution network operators we are contacting customers with older schemes that have secured transmission consent but are not progressing so we can recover unneeded system capacity.
Changing policies: Starting in April 2023 we’ve changed key policies in how we assess connections taking a pragmatic approach informed by real life use of the network by major connection customers. We will continue to review our approach in this area.
Network investment: We’re investing in our network to meet increasing demand. We’re investing millions of pounds over the next five years to make more capacity available. We have projects planned in key locations, including Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
Commercial contracts: We’re developing smarter contracts that incorporate flexibility, making the most of the network capacity available and getting more from the network.
Deploying technology: We have some of the most innovative technology on our network to manage electricity flows in real time, maximising the use of the network.
Streamline your connection process
The resources below are designed to assist you in understanding and connecting your projects smoothy to our network.
Network Asset Viewer
Search for assets on our distribution network by using the Network Asset Viewer. You can use this interactive map to identify the attributes of a specific asset and search an area of interest.
Accelerating connections webinarVideo about Accelerating connections webinar (opens in popup)
You may be aware from the media that there are issues affecting the speed by which customers can connect to the network. This webinar provides information about a number of cross-industry initiatives that are being developed to try to unlock capacity and speed up connections.