Collaborating to improve electricity connections 

Jack Presley Abbott

Jack Presley Abbott

Deputy Director of Energy Systems Management & Security

Publication date

Industry sector

  • Transmission Network
  • Distribution Network

To achieve our net zero goals and reduce Great Britain’s (England, Scotland and Wales) reliance on international energy markets, we need to build a cleaner energy system. For a cleaner energy system, we need a more efficient connections process. This will ensure customers can connect to the electricity network where and when they need to. To do this, Ofgem, the government and the companies that own and operate the grid need to collaborate, listen to connection customers and other stakeholders, share ideas, and hold each other accountable.

In April, we asked for views on National Grid Electricity System Operator’s (ESO) proposal about making sure only projects that are ready to connect can enter or remain in the connections queue. This proposal is welcome, but the details still need to be developed and the risks and benefits evaluated.

These stakeholder responses have been published and will be reviewed in detail. We expect these responses to be fully considered through the formal industry process for developing the proposal known as a code modification. This process will run for several months. Industry-led working groups will debate options and find a solution for Ofgem’s approval.

Takeaways from the April Connections Delivery Board  

At the April Connections Delivery Board meeting, we heard new ideas from the companies responsible for the connections process. These companies are:

  • the ESO and Transmission Operators (TOs) for customers connecting at larger, high voltage connections. The transmission network can be thought of as our electricity motorways
  • Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) for customers connecting at smaller, lower voltage connections. The distribution network can be thought of as our electricity A and B roads

These companies will need to work together to develop and deliver these ideas to ensure a consistent customer experience. 

The minutes of the April meeting are available on the Energy Networks Association Connections Delivery Board webpage.  Below are the main discussion points.

The work on the single digital map of grid capacity, which is being developed across transmission and distribution, is very welcome. This will help new customers considering grid connections. It has great potential to enable connections customers to make better informed decisions. 

Technical discussions on how to use our existing and future network capacity to maximise the number of connections were positive. The potential solutions that could make a difference, included:

  • new modelling approaches like construction planning assumptions
  • different approaches to allocating and sharing assets for connecting projects (substation bays)

Energy Networks Association suggested improvements to the process of connecting to the distribution network. This included ideas on how to better reserve transmission capacity for distribution customers that need it and how to raise entry requirements for distribution connection applications. 

These ideas are encouraging. The Connections Delivery Board looks forward to seeing how ESO, TOs and DNOs deliver these solutions and ensure the whole system benefits from them. The connections process must work for generation, storage and demand projects of all sizes. Organisations must work together to develop ideas into solutions that they can rapidly deliver. This will help us achieve a high-quality, consistent connections process for all customers.