The Isle of Wight has significant potential for renewable energy generation and has succeeded in developing projects, mostly in solar power. However, due to electricity network constraints, it’s difficult for new generators to connect, requiring an innovative approach to finding solutions to overcome these barriers.

Project UN:LOCK (Unblocking Networks: Local Optimisation, Consumers and Knowledge) is exploring ways to accelerate the connection of new generation ahead of network reinforcement, researching opportunities to increase on-Island demand when local generation is at its highest.

The project team researched multiple options for overcoming the generation constraint during the Discovery phase of this project, undertaking desktop research, stakeholder engagement and analysis to better understand the opportunities and challenges of implementing each option. We then created design plans for each, exploring how they might work in practise, and assessed their potential ability to overcome the constraint based on criteria such as material impact, implementability and scalability. We also explored the potential impact of deploying multiple options in tandem.

Following this process, and extensive feedback from stakeholders, our research shows that some of the options have the potential to increase network capacity before reinforcement, facilitating the connection of new generation. The options have been narrowed down to a shortlist of three, which will be taken forward for further development. These are:

  • Changes to flexible connection offers given to generators, and how they are managed by the network.
  • Flexible products offered by the DNO, to support the growth of flexible demand.
  • Using smart tariffs to engage demand consumers and shift local demand.

The next step is to explore how the shortlisted solutions can be achieved in practice.

We also developed an assessment tool that captured the research and rating process completed as part of this project. This aims to help identify solutions to generation constraints in other locations across Great Britain, so that renewables can get connected faster. The tool supports users to collect and process the data required to assess the potential for a range of options and to decide which options to progress.

UNLOCK Assessment Tool (1)

Next steps

The project team has submitted and application to take project UN:LOCK to the next phase of SIF, to further develop analysis and design plans for testing the chosen options. They are also continuing to develop the assessment tool, to create a user-friendly process for identifying solutions to generation constraints across the country. Any future Beta phase would see trials carried out on the Isle of Wight and plans for commercialisation/BAU deployment explored.

The project team presented their findings at one of Ofgem’s SIF Show & Tell webinars on 5 June. The recording of this should be online soon.

We have worked with SSEN and Environmental Project Support on Project UN:LOCK, building on a previous Regen study to explore opportunities to connect additional generation within existing network capacity limits, to help facilitate the island’s net zero aspirations. Click here to read the full UN:LOCK report and view the assessment tool developed as part of this project. To discuss this area of our work, please reach out to Tamar Bourne.

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