Landowners who are interested in securing income from energy schemes (including renewables, batteries or gas) should not be put off by an apparent lack of grid capacity. Grid availability is changing all the time, with success often depending on timing.
And a new regular check-up service could provide the ideal answer. Launched by power and energy specialist Roadnight Taylor, the service offers quarterly checks, to see if new grid capacity has become available – something which is happening on a regular basis, according to CEO Hugh Taylor.
“Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are constantly upgrading the network to create additional capacity. Alongside this, many large schemes – particularly battery storage projects – are being cancelled, freeing up previously allocated headroom,” he says. “We’ve had a number of cases where we have gone back to re-appraise grid availability, and some has become accessible, enabling projects to proceed which had previously been blocked.”
So why is this happening? “DNOs are always investing in the networks, which is creating additional capacity,” explains Mr Taylor. “Some of these reinforcements take years to come to fruition, but once the works are programmed the capacity is up for grabs, and you can apply for it in advance.”
The industry is also investing heavily in flexible connection arrangements, he adds. “Networks are modelled for worst-case scenario conditions, so there is nearly always a lot of spare capacity that’s not being utilised. Actively managed connections enable developers to utilise that headroom. However, to access it for your site you need to know who to ask, what to ask, and how to interpret their answers.”
Finally, the battery storage market has become saturated over the past couple of years, and now many developers are cancelling unviable projects. “If a 20MW storage scheme is cancelled, that new headroom would almost certainly be suitable for a solar farm, if you were able to secure it.”
Just last month, Roadnight Taylor secured 50MW of capacity for a landowner, for a 180-acre solar farm in Gloucestershire. “A month before that there definitely wasn’t any availability.” In another case, it carried out a Stop/Go study for a client, which showed lack of capacity was a stumbling block. “We went back three months later and secured enough capacity for a 23MW, 90-acre solar farm,” says Mr Taylor. “With ground rents of around £850/acre over 40 years, that’s worth £3m to our client.”
In the South-West, there is a common belief that Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) network has no more capacity – but that simply isn’t the case, he adds. “A few years ago there was an embargo on new connections, but WPD has reconfigured the grid and freed up significantly more space. We carried out a feasibility study in mid-May for a landowner in Devon and found 20MW for a gas genset scheme, worth £1.8m over 30 years for just one acre.”
Of course, not all sites will be suitable for an energy project, but where one would be viable, excepting available capacity, it is worth carrying out regular network reviews, says Mr Taylor. The firm’s Stop/Go study – which identifies whether there is genuine potential for a site – costs from £350 + VAT, with regular reviews priced at just £75 a quarter. For more information call 01993 830571 or visit www.roadnighttaylor.co.uk