19 March 2010


Grid access for solar energy projects needs improvement

Experience from other countries around Europe has shown that uncertainty around grid access arrangements may seriously delay or even stop completely investments in renewable energy sector. The fact that a second consultation with members of the industry and the wider public is underway seems to indicate that the UK Government has recognized the significance of the subject.

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy and Climate Change published plans to change the way new electricity generation is connected to the UK’s power grid. These plans, called Connect and Manage, aim to clear the way for renewable energy projects such as wind and solar farms to be connected to the grid in time to meet the 2020 renewable energy targets.

In a statement, Energy and Climate Change Minister David Kidney said: “Access to the electricity grid has been one of the key barriers to the generation of renewable energy in this country. There are currently around 78 gigawatts of prospective new generation capacity – some 160 projects – that are waiting to be connected to the grid, including over 19 gigawatts from renewable sources. The new rules will help these projects get hooked up to the grid as soon as they are ready – helping in the shift to low carbon, secure energy supplies.”

Connect and Manage has been drafted to enable new generators to connect to the electricity grid and start generating as soon as the local connection has been built. The accompanying consultation “Improving Grid Access – Technical consultation on the model for improving grid access” has been underway since March 3, 2010 and will close on March 31, 2010.

The results and real-life experience of grid connection for renewable energy systems will be discussed among members of the industry at a conference scheduled for later this year: the UK PV Conference. The event aims to address all issues relevant to the newly emerging solar energy market in the UK, a major one of which is grid connection for system operators.

The UK PV Conference will be held at Central Hall Westminster on June 22, 2010. It will bring together more than 150 industry experts from the business sector, the government, and regulatory authorities. The event is being organized by Solarplaza.

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