10 May 2015
Following a recent briefing meeting held with the local engineering team from SEE Plc we have a better understanding of the limitations placed on connecting renewable generation schemes to the existing electricity network. A recent scheme at Rose Hill Community Centre has been limited to 49kW (rather than the 62kWp planned) due to network equipment issues at the main Cowley substation. It appears this is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem around the country as the antiquated National Grid was never designed for the power flows caused by the proliferation of micro generation.
However this causes a dilemma and one that needs central government consideration – building regulations and the push to design and build low carbon buildings is increasing the demand for renewable energy systems in buildings. If these renewable energy systems cannot be connected to the grid then clients will be limited to on-site generation (smaller schemes with no capacity to export) and they potentially have to provide additional (costly?) design features to meet building regulations.
This could significantly reduce the amount of grid connected micro renewable schemes and if the Government is to meet its target (15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020) then it needs to provide significant investment in the National Grid. Is this another example of the law of unintended consequences?