‘Critical problem’ grid won’t be ready for solar projects until 2030s


Some UK solar farm developers are reportedly facing 15- to 20-year wait times to connect to the local grid, with the government set to decommission the electricity system by 2035. Energy regulators say this is a “major problem” as they aim to carbonize.

Network outages mean some solar plant developers won’t be able to connect to the local grid until the 2030s, with the government acknowledging the “challenge of connectivity delays”. .

Industry group Solar Energy UK said in May that large solar projects will have longer wait times to connect to the grid, both on the roof and above ground. “In many cases, it could last well into the 2030s.”

A spokesperson for Solar Energy UK told The Epoch Times that at least two of its members were told they were planning to connect in 2037. In some cases, previously agreed connection dates have been postponed for years, for example from 2025 to 2028.

epoch photo
A view of the power pylons behind the house in Lyd, Kent, England on September 30, 2022. (Gareth Fuller/PA Media)

“Zombie” project

The government wants all electricity produced in the UK to be carbon-free by 2035, and wants a ‘fully decarbonized’ electricity system by 2050. .

Earlier this month, energy regulator Ofgem head Jonathan Blair said some renewable energy projects that may never be built could prevent more viable solar plants from being connected to the grid. He said having sex was “unacceptable.”

This is due to a system he called a “zombie” project, which is unlikely to ever be pushed forward, but still takes precedence over newer but viable plans.

Ofgem believes that reducing the latency of connecting to the growing power grid requires a major overhaul.

A spokesperson for Ofgem told The Epoch Times in an email that developers looking to connect renewable energy projects to the grid face wait times of more than 15 years.

“In recent years, the exponential increase in the time it takes developers to connect renewable energy projects to the national grid has been seen as a major problem. There is also the risk of delays,” he added.

National Grid Tells You to Imagine How a high voltage power system works is like the difference between a road network and a highway network. The National Grid ESO is a “large expressway (highway)” and a distribution network operator (DNO) consists of companies licensed to distribute electricity to rural areas along “roads”. It has been.

One site, Larksgreen Solar Power Plant, Japan’s first power supply directly to the grid. It claims that it will “generate more than 73,000 MWh annually, enough to power more than 17,300 homes.”

With the exception of Larks Green, all solar projects are connected via DNO.

“We are not ready to accept so many unreliable power sources.”

Ben Pile, a climate researcher and co-founder of Climate Debate, told The Epoch Times in an email that these complaints were “significantly overpowering the grid infrastructure, despite supplying a very small amount of electricity to the grid.” needs a serious upgrade,” he said, referring to facilities.

“Operators of a potential large-scale rooftop solar array development call it a ‘scandal,’ but the real scandal is that this idea of ​​micro-generation is driving first-world economies. . [former Prime Minister] It was defended by Prime Minister David Cameron, but has not been abolished,” he said.

“They don’t have the ability to cut our bills as advocates claim,” he said.

Pyle said similar problems arose in the 2010s, when onshore wind developers held twice as many planning agreements as they developed.

That’s because the grid “isn’t ready for so many unreliable power sources.”

“A large, very remote wind farm requires frequent new connections of the right kind. Wind farms can only generate a few tens of megawatts intermittently.” [GW]This is 1,000 times more than a wind turbine or a solar power plant because there is basically only one connection to the grid,” he said.

He said the public would pay for grid upgrades so that “factory owners and solar companies could get additional profits.”

“But for consumers who really need large power plants to keep prices down, it’s not a big deal,” he added.

Pyle said the “turmoil” that potential suppliers claim transmission operators are experiencing is “not surprising.”

“The UK’s climate and energy policy is irrational and was bound to cause disruption. There is a ‘164GW of new connection requests’ as the absurdly high energy prices caused by green policies create incentives. ” he said.

“If all of these demands are met, we could probably get 164GW of capacity during the July lunchtime, when it’s least needed,” he said.

“But in the middle of the night nobody will be there. We still need the ability to power in time,” he added.

cut time

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero told The Epoch Times in an email: Nearly all of the UK’s solar capacity has been installed by him since 2010, and that amount is enough for him to power more than 4 million homes.

“We recognize the challenges of connectivity delays and want to go even faster, aiming for 70 GW of solar capacity by 2035. We are working to reduce the time it takes to connect.” Plans to power up the UK. ”

Lawrence Slade, CEO of the Energy Network Association, which represents the UK’s energy network operators, told The Epoch Times in an email: “Network operators understand the scale and urgency of this challenge. We are making every effort to accelerate the grid connection.”

“The industry received 164 GW of new connection requests in the year to October 2022 alone, which is about three times the capacity of the grid today,” he said.

“As today’s statistics show, we need to do more, which is why we launched our Customer Connectivity Improvement and Acceleration Plan, which includes moving to a ‘First Lady, First Connected’ model. It is included. The time is ticking and it is imperative that the policy environment and regulatory regime keep pace and give due consideration to the UK’s net-zero target. ”

PA Media contributed to this report.