Solar developments and battery storage are to potentially benefit from new funding for electricity network upgrades designed to facilitate green technology.
The funding - with up to £300 million available across the country - comes as part of a joint effort between the distribution network operators (DNOs), Ofgem and the Energy Networks Association (ENA), with locations where network investment can be made quickly to support shovel-ready developments underpinning the net zero transition being of particular interest.
DNO SP Energy Networks (SPEN) outlined how it is looking for shovel-ready projects across technologies such as solar, heat pumps and electric vehicle (EV) chargers, while ENA chief executive David Smith said ramping up investments would support "not only renewables, but battery storage, electric vehicles, heat-pumps and all of the other technologies we will need to achieve our net zero future".
To determine where the funding is best placed to go, a six week call for local authorities, developers and other parties to offer evidence on why extra capacity in their locality should be selected is being launched.
The core criteria of the funding includes utilisation – so how much of the capacity might be used in the near term – as well as deliverability – how quickly infrastructure and solutions could be completed – and value for money.
Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said the regulator is urging electricity network companies to “come forward with fresh new sites for green investment”, adding that “we cannot afford a delay in building a clean energy infrastructure that will help power our transport and heat our homes emissions-free”.
The funding has been partly sourced through DNO's existing allowances as part of the RIIO-ED1 price control and partly through newly-raised funds.
Any areas without shovel-ready network locations for capacity increases over the next two years will not necessarily miss out, with the opportunity to submit their evidence to DNOs for inclusion in the RIIO-ED2 price control business plans.