UK DNOs forecast just 6.6GW of new solar PV capacity out to 2023

The UK’s 14 Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are projecting 6.6GW of new solar PV capacity will be connected to their networks out to 2023, according to documents obtained by the Solar Trade Association (STA).

Writing exclusively for Solar Power Portal, Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at STA described the forecasts as ‘alarming’, noting that the UK’s current solar capacity is already in excess of 6.6GW.

The STA obtained the figures as part of Ofgem’s new RIIO-ED1 (Revenue = Incentives + Innovation + Outputs) framework which runs until 2023. Because the 14 DNOs operate as regional monopolies, the RIIO framework overseen by Ofgem is designed to ensure that the companies deliver reliable networks for the lowest cost to consumers.

However, the Energy Network Association, the DNOs’ trade body, has warned that Ofgem’s proposals for price control could obstruct DNOs from financing the scale of investment necessary to upgrade the grid. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) estimates that £34 billion of investment is required in the UK’s electricity networks by 2020, with a further £7.6 billion required for the gas network.

The STA has set up a new Strategic Grid group charged with tackling the issue “in response to the high level of member concern”. The association is calling on solar industry members to provide it with details on grid concerns, including price of connections by filling out a survey.

The association notes that Amber Rudd’s upcoming Strategic Policy Statement to Ofgem represents the best opportunity “to give urgently needed strategic direction to the networks”. Greene notes that the current draft includes promises to ensure that developers “can secure timely and cost-effective access to the network”.

"The future evolution of the network is clouded by uncertainty and misinformed by astonishing underestimates in the rate of renewables deployment", added Greene.