Renewable energy developers have secured enough agreements to connect nearly 32 giggawatts (GW) to the National Grid as a result of recent policy reforms, relieving concerns that the aging grid poses a major threat to the UK's 2020 renewable targets.
National Grid confirmed yesterday in its latest quarterly update that it has now granted sufficient connections to link up nearly 32GW of existing and proposed renewables projects by 2020, well beyond the 29GW that were previously identified as being required to achieve 15 per cent of energy being generated by renewable sources by the same year.
But despite the positive signs, the grid operator has urged industry and government to pull out all the stops to ensure proposed projects become a reality, warning the target is unlikely to be met without an urgent overhaul of the planning system and energy markets.
National Grid agreed about 6GW of additional capacity since its last quarterly update at the end of July, boosted by a steady increase in proposed projects and reforms to industry rules that now allow developers to plug in to the grid as soon as local connections are ready, without waiting for wider system reinforcements.
However, National Grid executive director Nick Winser warned against complacency.
"This is a great step forward, but we must not underestimate how big a challenge it will be to deliver," he said. "We need the timely planning consents and the right market frameworks to make sure enough of these proposed projects get built."
He added that National Grid will continue to work hard to agree further grid connections because some projects will inevitably be abandoned as a resulty of planning objections or financing issues.
"There is no room for complacency, and there is no time for delay," he said. "Government, the regulator Ofgem and industry will have work together like never before to see this happen."
The government is expected to announce changes to the planning system shortly as part of the Decentralisation and Localism Bill and a consultation on the energy markets is slated forlaunch in December.
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