Flexible Connections

Overview

This page contains details of the flexible connection products which DNOs are offering or trialling to distributed generators (DG). The links below take you to documents which summarise the types of flexible connection on offer by each DNO and links to further details on DNO websites.

What is a flexible connection

Electricity networks are planned and designed on the basis of meeting the local peak demand or peak generation placed on them. This peak might only occur for a few hours on a handful of days a year. When a new customer (demand or generation) requests a connection to the network, companies assess whether the capacity requested will breach demand or generation limits at this peak time. If it does, then reinforcement of the network is required. Under the distribution connection charging methodology (which is approved by Ofgem), connecting customers are required to make a financial contribution to the cost of that reinforcement.

On the back of successful trials, many companies are allowing new customers to connect to the network, without reinforcement, even where the capacity requested by that customer exceeds the peak network limits. Companies are allowing this, on the basis that the customer agrees to being constrained off when the network is reaching its capacity limits. This can reduce the cost of connecting to the network and also the time to connect, as works are not required. Flexible connections are sometimes referred to as non-firm connections, constrained connections or active network management schemes. 

Risks of a flexible connection

While flexible connections have the potential to deliver savings to the customers via reduced connection costs there are risks associated. It is likely that the generation output of a flexible connection may be reduced or curtailed at times. For example a time of high generation output such as particularly windy days in areas where a large amount of wind generation is connected to the network.

Any future upgrades to standard or firm connections are subject to changes in network capacity, these changes have the potential to increase the cost of a standard or firm connection but also the potential to deliver cost reductions over time and deliver added benefit to the customer.

Different flexible connection products

Many of the flexible connection terms being offered by companies have emerged from trials funded through Ofgem’s low carbon network fund and network innovation competition. Some are still in trial form and companies are at varying stages of roll out and deployment. Companies have trialled different variants to understand which works best. All companies have been keen to ensure that these flexible connection products are made more widely available as soon as possible. As a consequence, many of the schemes vary slightly in application. The details below are designed to allow connecting customers to understand these different products and how they qualify for them.

Individual companies will be able to advise on specific connection application requests.

Network Operator Information

Electricity North West

National Grid Electricity Transmission

Northern Powergrid

Scottish Power Energy Networks

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

UK Power Networks

Western Power Distribution

 

For queries related to Futures please contact Randolph Brazier, [email protected], and for Regulation queries please contact John Spurgeon, [email protected]