Graham Stein, Network Operability Manager at National Grid ESO, explains how the Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme can save generators and customers money, and contribute to a more resilient and reliable electricity system.
It’s been just over a year since the ESO launched the Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme (ALOMCP) with the Energy Networks Association (ENA), distribution network operators and independent distribution network operators.
The project is offering funding to generators that were connected before 1 February 2018 to upgrade their hardware in a move that will provide a boost to renewable energy generators by helping them export more energy onto the network and will reduce electricity bills by £200m per year.
All distributed generation could be impacted by this change, from large wind and solar farms to office complexes or hospitals with their own generating plants and even schools or universities with solar roof panels. Protection can be built into generation equipment in a way that generation owners perhaps haven’t thought about, for example, the individual invertors in a solar PV installation. All generators will be required by the Distribution Code to have up to date protection settings by 1 September 2022.
Electricity generators are urged to apply to claim potentially thousands of pounds in grants to help improve network reliability before the latest funding window closes on 9th February 2021, with no guarantee that same level of support will be available after this date.
Applications received before the deadline will be accepted if they meet qualifying criteria and can complete their required loss of mains changes before the end of June 2021. Applications that do not meet the relevant completion deadline will be considered on a case by case basis and acceptance is not guaranteed.
Since the project launched in September 2019, almost 5000 sites have had their application approved equating to almost 10 GW of capacity.
So why is the project needed?
We’re proud that the GB system is one of the most reliable in the world. On the national network, operated by National Grid ESO, there have only been two widespread power cuts since 2008. At a local level the number of power cuts has shrunk significantly since 1990, with a 60% cut in the length of outages too - mainly due thanks to the work done by the electricity distribution companies, who connect domestic customers to the national power network
The huge increase in renewables over recent years, many of it connected at a distribution network level, has changed how the electricity system operates. As its level increases across Great Britain it’s important we understand how distributed generation responds to fluctuations in supply, helping us to better manage the grid
The Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme has been set up to offer generators grants for making the required changes as soon as possible.
Graham Stein, ALOMCP Lead at National Grid ESO says:
“We’re working closely with our project partners for a national drive to encourage as many eligible electricity generator owners, connected in accordance with a connection procedure called EREC G59 to apply while funding is available.
“One of the project’s most important tasks is to be able to demonstrate that less generation would shut down in response to a grid disturbance. To do this, we need to know that protection settings have changed. When we have confidence that enough changes have been made, we can reduce the amount of money we spend to limit the impact of electricity generation shutdowns.
“We’re particularly keen to see sites that use the Rate of Change of Frequency (RoCoF) type of protection with low settings (0.125 Hzs-1 or 0.2 Hzs-1) apply through the programme. Applications mean we know when changes will be made, and we know that they are completed.”
Not all generation owners with RoCoF will want to apply to the Programme but is advisable for all resources to check whether they need to make the changes or not anyway and if possible, get in touch with their DNO to let them know their status.
Ultimately, taking these actions is going to save generators and customers money, and contribute to a more resilient and reliable electricity system.
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).
Energy supplier or network operator? Energy network operators are entirely separate to your energy supplier, which is the company that bills you for using electricity and gas. Energy suppliers and generators are represented by Energy UK.