Cheaper network connections on the way for wind and solar electricity generators in East Anglia

UK Power Networks is offering more flexible, and cheaper, connections to the distribution network fo

UK Power Networks is offering more flexible, and cheaper, connections to the distribution network for solar and wind farm installations - Credit: Archant

UK Power Networks, the company responsible for delivering electricity to homes and businesses across East and South-East England, is now offering more flexible – and cheaper – connections to the network for producers of renewable energy.

Instead of a constant electricity connection, requiring new cabling and substations, generators such as solar farms and wind farms in parts of East Anglia can now opt for an interruptible service, known as Flexible Distributed Generation.

More than 20 generation sites have already been connected during trials, enabling the developers to share in savings of more than £70m compared with standard connection costs.

The service is now being rolled-out more widely, including large areas of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, part of Waveney in north suffolk and in Maldon and part of Rochford in mid-Essex.

Mark Adolphus, director of connections at UK Power Networks, said: “We developed a flexible connections service to help solar and wind farms connect to our networks quicker and cheaper, reducing their connection costs and supporting carbon reduction targets.

“I am delighted we are extending our service to benefit the operators of more electricity generation and potentially energy storage plants. We continue to look at new and innovative ways to make connections quicker and more efficient for this key business sector.”

UK Power Networks says the new service builds on its track record of supporting low carbon electricity generators, which has already seen the connection of 8.53 gigawatts of distributed generation capacity to its networks, enough to power 3.4m homes.

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The roll-out of the service follows a pilot in Cambridgeshire which received £6.7m of funding from energy regulator Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund, together with £3m from UK Power Networks and other project partners.

UK Power Networks says it expects the service to be available across the region by 2021, with the further extension of coverage being drivem by customer demand and the completion of network investments.

Ed Cowdery, chief executive of renewable energy developer and battery storage company Encor Power, said: “The permanent opening of flexible connections is a welcome opportunity to connect more generation and storage services, optimising network usage opportunities and resulting in beneficial cost reductions.

“UK Power Networks has remained receptive to these applications and has been supportive in ensuring connection offers are received in an efficient and helpful manner. We look forward to continuing this working relationship to help secure the UK’s electricity supply capability.”