Solar farm Barkham Image Wokingham Borough Council
ESO proposes a retrospective application of the long-term grid connection reforms. Image: Wokingham Borough Council.

The UK’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) has proposed applying the ‘First Ready, First Connected’ approach to existing solar projects in the queue.

The long-term connection reforms were first announced in December 2023 and would have then only applied to new connection applications and significant Modification Applications received from January 2025 onwards.

With the grid connection queue growing fast, ESO believes that this further application is needed if it can drive improved connection dates in the timescales required to deliver on the Connections Action Plan (CAP) objectives.

Cutting the grid connection queue in half

The operator’s internal analysis of available data indicates that these proposals could halve the queue’s size, enabling earlier connection dates for viable projects.

Under the reformed ‘First Ready, First Connected’ approach, projects will enter the connections process at ‘Gate 1’ but must reach certain criteria to arrive at ‘Gate 2’, at which point projects can obtain a queue position and a connection date.

Projects would only receive an indicative connection date and connection point before reaching Gate 2. Projects in the existing queue will be given time before these reforms are implemented to demonstrate they have met Gate 2.

Where projects meet the criteria, they can retain their existing connection date or request an accelerated connection date based on the reformed queue Where projects in the existing queue do not meet the criteria, they will move to an indicative connection date and an indicative connection point. They will also no longer be subject to liabilities and securities or to Queue Management Milestones.

Subject to the regulator’s approval of timelines for the code modification process, this reformed process could be in place by January 2025.

This article first appeared on Solar Power Portal’s sister publication Current±.

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