A ScottishPower Energy Networks trial project that aims to help accelerate the time taken and reduce the costs of connecting small-scale and community-based renewable energy projects to the grid has received funding of around £8m from Ofgem, as part of its Low Carbon Network Fund.
The Accelerating Renewable Connections (ARC) project aims to trial a new process for connecting conventional and community driven renewable energy schemes using new commercial arrangements as well as new energy management technology. Ultimately this will enable greater amounts of low carbon electricity to connect to the grid, quicker and cheaper than possible at the moment.
The company aims to trial the new processes and technology in East Lothian and the Scottish Borders initially, and will soon begin a process of community engagement to speak to local renewable energy developers and community groups interested in generating low carbon electricity. The project will also look to apply the same connection methods to larger scale windfarms across the trial area.
Martin Hill, Future Networks Manager at ScottishPower Energy Networks, said: “In the last three years, the number of connection requests for new generation projects in our network area has increased by 700%. The Scottish Government has also set targets for at least 500MW of local and community based renewable generation by 2020. Our trial project aims to help deliver those targets by making local distribution networks much smarter and by improving the processes for small-scale renewable generators.
“This will be the largest project of its kind in Britain, and we hope to establish new processes and prove new technology that could be applied on distribution networks all over the country. We look forward to speaking with local communities in East Lothian and The Borders in the near future to help take forward plans for local renewable energy projects.”
The project partners include Smarter Grid Solutions, Community Energy Scotland and the University of Strathclyde. Throughout the project there will also be a close working relationship with National Grid, who balance supply and demand across the electricity network in Britain.
Mo Cloonan, Head of Development at Community Energy Scotland, said: “We are delighted that the ARC project has received funding as we believe the learning this project will create will bring numerous benefits for communities and small scale developers across the East Lothian and Borders region by creating more innovative connection processes. We also believe this learning will prove invaluable for communities and renewable developers across the rest of Scotland as the issues being addressed in the ARC region are found in many other parts of Scotland. We look forward to working with Scottish Power and the other project partners over the next few years”
The trial area chosen is the East Lothian and Borders region of Scotland and covers an area of 2700km2. This area already has a high level of existing generation, which can traditionally be a barrier for community projects. There is currently around 200MW of connected small-scale renewable generation with a further 530MW of proposed generation. This high level of existing and pending projects is typical of a future distribution network and is well suited to trial new technologies and processes.
Media Information: Paul Ferguson, 0141 614 4535