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The Grid’s limited capabilities pose a real threat to the UK’s ability to switch from fossil fuel reliance to renewables. There are several hurdles that must be overcome in order to achieve low carbon power generation:

Outdated infrastructure – The existing infrastructure was built to distribute from large power plants directly to customers, but it is now required to connect dispersed generation and at the same time needs to cope with increased demand. Many substations have old switchgear and are not capable of importing or exporting any more load. As a result, DNOs are reducing the number of offers to connect, or offering connection in the 2030s.

Increased costs – In some cases, small-scale projects are rendered unviable due to them having to contribute to transmission upgrade costs, making it very difficult for them to contribute to a renewable energy mix. Currently every application of more the 1MW requires a National Grid Statement of Works exercise which costs a further £18,000 and an additional 3 months (minimum). This is impacting speed of execution and costs of smaller scale projects.

Grid imbalance – New pressures have arisen from the large increase in offshore wind, which must be transported to points of use in the South. This pressure is exacerbated by the number of 50-100MW battery projects applying for connection, which hoover up any local excess generation.

This is a growing crisis. Businesses who need to connect or increase capacity to preserve jobs or grow will find their progress to decarbonise halted. If the Government is serious about decarbonisation, it needs to make a massive investment in grid infrastructure to enable the energy transition, otherwise the target timeframes will not be met.

Our suggestions:
– Regulators should consider increasing the limit of 4kW above which every project requires a G99 application and increase to say 500kW, to reduce burden on DNOs.
– Businesses should be given priority to available capacity ahead of batteries.  
– A strategy should be rolled out focusing on increasing capacity in high industrial intensity zones.