This year's Renewable Energy Marketplace, taking place near Exeter on Tuesday 21 April, offers farmers and growers an insight into the vexed matter of renewable electricity connections to local grid networks. Western Power Distribution (WPD) recently announced that capacity problems on the high-voltage transmission network near Bristol will make much of our NFU southwest region (ie Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and parts of Dorset) subject to three to six year delays for connections where any reinforcement work is needed at 6600 volts, 11,000 volts or above.
Existing grid connection offers will not be affected, nor will 'Low Voltage' connections such as domestic and smaller rooftop PV projects.
Technical and contractual 'fixes' may be possible through "alternative connection offers" which constrain exported electricity (timed, soft intertrip and active network management).
Export limiters and storage batteries may soften the blow for farmers getting their renewable energy projects connected, but we are frustrated by this sudden change in WPD's terms of business for new generation connections.
The lack of forward investment in national electricity infrastructure (supposedly to save on consumer costs) is likely to result in similar constraints in other parts of the UK before long, so it is most important that NFU members understand what technical options are becoming available.
The NFU is engaged in a variety of meetings and technical working groups on grid connections over the coming weeks.
Nigel Turvey, WPD's design and development manager, is speaking at 3pm in the RegenSW conference and exhibition at Westpoint showground (2 miles east of Exeter, near M5J30) on 21 April. NFU members and advisers can register for 50% off conference tickets using the discount code NFUdiscount
Other highlights of the Renewable Energy Marketplace 2015 include:
- over 100 exhibitors covering the full range of technologies
- expert clinics with accountants, lawyers and planners
- a green car zone
WPD are also holding their own 'DG Connections' event next week (14 April) at Sandy Park, Exeter EX2 7NN - contact bXBhbHVjaEB3ZXN0ZXJucG93ZXIuY28udWs=