Ofgem has given National Grid ESO the go-ahead to implement an amnesty that could see up to 8GW of capacity released from the grid connection pipeline.
Currently companies wishing to exit the UK’s grid connection queue have to pay a penalty in order to do so, but Ofgem and National Grid ESO have agreed on a plan which would see those charges abolished for a short period.
There are said to be as many as 50 projects that could take National Grid ESO up on its amnesty offer, with many of these projects delayed due to other factors. However, due to the costs of leaving the queue, these projects remain in the pipeline, potentially delaying other projects that are further along from being connected and coming onstream.
The amnesty comes at an important time for National Grid ESO, which has promised to speed up grid connection times after many generation projects were being given connection dates more than 10 years in the future.
However, despite the 50 projects that are estimated to take part in the amnesty, there are still 1,444 projects still on the Transmission Entry Capacity register waiting to be connected. That’s quite a large backlog to get through, which is why the amnesty is just one step in the company’s plans.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. The amnesty was first suggested last year, with National Grid ESO letting developers register their interest in the scheme between October 2022 and April 2023. Then the long wait for Ofgem’s approval began, which it now has.
Ofgem gives amnesty approval
Jack Presley Abbot, Ofgem’s Marketing Design Deputy Director, noted, “We understand the urgency with which improvements need to be made to connection timescales.
“Increasing application volumes (at all voltage levels) are putting greater pressure on systems and processes, which has meant that the number of new connection offers provided by NGESO has grown tenfold over the course of the last five years (and there has been an increase of 80% in the last year alone).
“The resulting size of the transmission queue is significant, with over 340GW of new generation now holding connection agreements. Further, over 40% of all new generation capacity holding transmission connection agreements today have connection dates of 2030 or beyond (some as late as 2037).
“These impacts permeate into the distribution network, hinder the growth of new generation and ultimately slow Great Britain’s progress to net zero. There is a clear need to take action now to enable the optimisation of the connection queue to deliver improved connection dates and processes for customers.”
Ofgem has given those who have already registered their interest in the scheme until September 2024 to formalise their exit from the connections pipeline, while the amnesty will be paid for by requiring the lost income to be recovered from all users of the grid via Transmission Network Use of System charges.