Planning Permission Likely Requirement For New Grid Connections

Future grid connection offers for wind and solar energy projects will only be made to those that have already secured planning permission, if a recent proposed decision from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is adopted. The proposed decision on “Enduring Connection Policy” was published by the CRU (formerly the CER) on the 2nd November, and has wide ranging implications for developers of renewables.

Some of the key proposals from the proposed decision include:

  • Suspend accepting or processing further generation of storage grid connection applications;
  • Process future connection offers in recurring batches, the first starting in 2018;
  • Cap the 2018 batch at 1,000MW (or 50 connection offers);
  • Require valid planning permission to enter the 2018 batch, but not for DS3 providers;
  • Process small scale generation, autoproducers and qualifying trial projects outside of the batch;
  • Remove the option to relocate capacity;
  • Offer capacity on a non-firm basis.

The requirement to have planning permission in place before a grid connection would be offered, has long been expected. The proposed policy is likely intended to avoid repeats of the Gate 3 scenario where grid connection offers were issued to applicants who had no planning permission, and often no site. The offers then turned into tradable commodities because they could be relocated to other locations. The proposed decision specifically states “capacity relocation weakens project commitment and encourages speculative approach to connection applications”, and so this facility has been suspended with immediate effect from the date of publication.

 There is also an option for applicants with live connection offers the option to potentially benefit from grouping arrangements should they wish to be processed under the new arrangement. Allowing their connection method to be grouped and studied together with the batch 2018 applicants might potentially lower their connection costs.

 The proposed decision is currently open for public consultation, with a closing date for submissions of 15th December 2017. Full details of the consultation are available at: https://www.cru.ie/document_group/electricity-connection-policy/


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