National Grid to accelerate 20GW of new projects

Around 20GW of battery storage and distribution projects will be offered new connection dates by National Grid as it seeks to clear the backlog created by a ‘first-come-first-served’ model.

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On its transmission network, 19 battery energy storage projects worth around 10GW will be offered dates to connect on average four years earlier than under existing terms. The acceleration has been enabled by a new approach that removes the need for non-essential engineering works prior to connecting storage. It is a cornerstone of National Grid Electricity System Operator’s (ESO’s) five-point plan to speed up connections, with hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy and storage projects facing lengthy queues to plug into the grid.

“We’re pleased to see the tangible delivery against one of the key points of our five-point plan to speed up connections to the transmission grid for battery and storage projects,” said Julian Leslie, ESO head of Networks and chief engineer.

“We’re evolving our network and taking the lead on speeding up connections to make our power system fit for the future, to deliver net zero and keep clean power flowing to the growing number of homes and businesses across Great Britain, fuelling our economy.”

Battery connections have often been delayed by years due to the assumption that sites could potentially charge during peak times and discharge when demand was low, adding strain to the grid. As such, grid reinforcements have been carried out prior to connection. Under the new model, National Grid will now offer selected battery projects a connection date before network reinforcements are made, under agreement that the ESO can adjust the battery’s behaviour in certain operating conditions to reduce system impact.

“We’re committed to speeding up connections and creating a ‘fit for the future’ process for plugging projects into the grid,” said Alice Delahunty, president of National Grid Electricity Transmission.

“Bringing these battery projects forward is one of a range of actions that our electricity transmission business is delivering alongside the system operator and wider industry to unlock clean energy capacity in England and Wales.”

10GW of distribution projects will also be accelerated - Adobe Stock

In addition to the 10GW of accelerated battery projects, National Grid also recently earmarked around 10GW of ‘shovel-ready’ distribution projects to be moved forward by up to five years. It says there are more than 200 projects interested in fast-tracking their distribution connection dates in the first wave of the capacity release, with 16 expressing an interest in connecting in the next 12 months and another 180 looking to connect within two-to-five years.

According to National Grid, a further tranche of clean energy projects – primarily batteries and hybrids (batteries co-located with wind or solar) – will be offered accelerated transmission connections as part of another phase anticipated in the new year, which could bring forward another 10GW.

“We’re delighted that so many customers have already expressed an interest in taking advantage of this additional capacity to accelerate the connection dates for their low carbon technologies,” said Cordi O’Hara, president of National Grid Electricity Distribution.

“But we’re not stopping there. Our second expression of interest will extend the offer to even more customers who will be able to benefit from our more agile approach to connections, enabling the UK to install the renewable generation needed to decarbonise the electricity system by 2035.”