Ofgem announces queue management system to speed up grid connections for renewable energy projects

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Ofgem have announced new rules to speed up electricity grid connections for viable renewable energy projects and allow ‘zombie projects’ to be forced out of the queue.

Up until this point grid connections have operated under a ‘first come, first served’ mentality, leading to a long queue of energy projects which could reportedly generate almost 400GW of electricity.

The new queue management system will be implemented by the UK’s grid operator National Grid ESO, who initially voiced the change earlier this year. ‘Common sense’ milestones, such as planning permission and finance, will be introduced to both new and existing grid connection agreements, giving National Grid ESO the power to terminate stalled or ‘zombie’ projects, removing them from the queue, and allowing those that are ready-to-go to be fast-tracked. The first ‘terminations’ are likely to happen in early 2024.

The news comes after figures from across the sector had pointed to grid connections as a major roadblock to the achievement of our renewable energy targets and overall energy transition. It also comes ahead of a joint connections action plan which Ofgem and the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DSNEZ) are due to publish later this month.

Eleanor Warburton, Ofgem’s Deputy Director for Institutions for Net Zero Energy Systems Management and Security said:

“The transition to net zero demands urgent changes to the electricity connections system – or we cannot unlock investment, speed up network build and accelerate new technology.

“This is a big step towards phasing out the first-come first-served queuing system. We want new power on the grid as quickly as possible, so if you’re ready, you can connect sooner. If you’re not ready and are blocking the progress of others, you’ll be removed – you can’t sit on the queue with no consequences.”

Julian Leslie, Chief Engineer and Head of Networks at National Grid ESO said:

“We warmly welcome these new rules approved by Ofgem enabling us to proactively terminate zombie projects in the connections queue. This is a milestone moment in the ESO’s efforts to lead the transformation of the grid connections process, making it fit for purpose for a modern network that is rapidly evolving and decarbonising.

“The ESO will be uncompromising in our approach to driving out projects that cannot meet their connection date, paving the way for more viable projects that have a real chance of plugging into the grid, energising the UK economy.”

More details of the queue management process can be found on Ofgem’s website.

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