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NORTHERN POWERGRID CALLS ON GENERATORS TO UPGRADE SYSTEMS BEFORE FUNDING WINDOW CLOSES

  • All non-domestic generation including wind, solar and other types of small- and large-scale generation must incorporate a crucial change in protection settings
  • Generators can claim potentially £1000s in funding towards the mandatory changes
  • Changes to pre-2018 installations will boost network resilience and allow smaller, greener generators to play a greater role in balancing the grid
  • These changes must be incorporated by 01 September 2022 and funding is available until February 2021

Solar and Wind shutterstock_759604846.jpgGenerators connected to the electricity network have just four months to claim thousands of pounds in funding towards mandatory hardware upgrades, aimed at boosting network resilience and encouraging a lower carbon power grid.  

Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for the electricity network that powers everyday life for 8 million people across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, is calling on generators in its area to make the changes before funding ends. Many types of generators need to comply from farmers with turbines to schools with rooftop solar panels.

Generators are currently being incentivised to comply with the latest version of Distribution Code regulation via the Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme (ALoMCP), a partnership between National Grid ESO, Energy Networks Association, Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and Independent Distribution Network Operators (IDNOs) which allows generators to apply for funding to make the necessary changes.

The funding is available through different project windows, with the latest batch ending in February 2021.

Owners of generation sites must make the necessary change by 01 September 2022. After this date, owners who have not made the changes may be the subject of an enforcement programme.

Generators connected to the grid before February 2018 have relays set at levels such that minor network disturbances can cause them to trip off. If a power line disconnects for a few seconds, the generator at the end of the line is temporarily disconnected from the wider network. This can be unsafe and lead to damage to the generator and anything the generator is powering, such as domestic appliances. Loss of Mains protection is there to make sure generators shut down safely in these circumstances.

John Rowland, ALoMCP Manager at Northern Powergrid said: “The ALoMCP is critical network upgrade project, particularly in the present Covid-19 environment where keeping the lights on for customers is more important than ever. This programme will be vital to ensuring the long-term stability of our energy network.

“There are around 4,000 generators based in Northern Powergrid’s operation area which are impacted by the changes to the regulations, requiring them to update their relays before September 2022. By making the changes to their systems, generators not only protect the network which our 8 million customers rely on, but also shield themselves from unnecessary loss of income when their sites trip off. I encourage them all to act now while the funding is available.”

The criteria for those required to upgrade their systems encompasses every form of generation connected to the grid that has a capacity of between approximately 10kW – equivalent to a medium sized, non-domestic, rooftop solar array – and 50MW – equivalent to large scale commercial generation.

Graham Stein, Network Operability Manager at National Grid ESO said: “We’re seeing increased levels of smaller and greener sources of power coming online and helping us to balance the grid. The Loss of Mains programme, delivered in partnership with colleagues across the industry, is helping them to change their settings and become more resilient – allowing them to play their role in the transition to a greener grid. Thousands of generators across the UK have already taken advantage of the scheme but with more funding available we’re still keen to hear from generation owners.”

Two levels of funding are available for generators required to incorporate the changes. If, as in most cases, a simple protection device settings change is required, the generator will receive £1,500 for the first change and an additional £500 per relay after that, up to a maximum of five relays, totalling £4,000. If relays require replacing, generators can receive £4,000 towards replacing each relay.

To accelerate the rate at which generators make the changes, National Grid ESO has now also introduced a ‘fast track scheme’ which pays generators that meet certain criteria which have a capacity of between 500kW and 5MW an extra £5,000 if they are able to complete the work within four weeks of applying for funding.