Ofgem has announced new measures to speed up grid connections and eject slow-moving developments will come into force before the end of this month.
The regulator confirmed on Monday that new queue management milestones will be implemented by UK grid operator National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) from 27 November, and will be introduced to both existing and future grid connection agreements.
This will terminate stalled projects that are blocking the queue for high-voltage transmission lines and means ready-to-go generation and storage capacity can be fast-tracked.
It follows plans tipped earlier this year by the ESO as part of a series of “targeted reforms” aimed at taking control of the country’s mammoth grid backlog.
Generators which are not progressing projects or will not meet their connection date will either be able to move backwards or leave the queue altogether, in order to make way for schemes that are delivering.
It also marks a move away from the ‘first-come, first-served’ system in place up until now, which has led to a long queue of energy projects which could generate nearly 400GW.
Meanwhile an amnesty has already been extended to around 50 projects which are now expected to remove or delay up to 8GW of generation from the queue, freeing up space for other schemes to progress.
It’s claimed the reforms will mean projects would be able to connect “up to ten years earlier” than the current system would allow.
The rule change will give National Grid ESO the power to introduce strict milestones into connection agreements and terminate projects if they do not hit them at each project stage.
Ofgem said the ESO will publish guidance on 27 November as to how it will use its powers with first terminations likely to happen as early as 2024.
The announcement also precedes a joint ‘connections action plan’ due to be published by Ofgem and the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero later this month.
In addition, the government will shortly submit a response to recommendations to halve the time to build transmission infrastructure by the then Electricity Networks Commissioner, Nick Winser.
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.”
ESO chief engineer and head of networks Julian Leslie added: “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.”