Whether they are small wind turbines or solar panels on a farm or large gas turbines or biomass-fired boilers on an estate, all generators must comply with new regulations under the Distribution Code.
Owners or operators of 11–50MW electricity generators, or 4–50MW single-phase generators, connected before 1 February 2018 or 1 July 2018 for specific solar photovoltaics, must comply with mandatory code regulations by 1 September 2022 or face enforcement action.
The code sets out the rules and regulations that generators must follow to connect to the electricity network. Some generation assets may now require modification in line with updates to the G59 regulations in the code. These changes concern the loss of mains protection settings between the generator and the electricity network.
All generators connected to the distribution networks in Britain have loss of mains protection settings, one of the many safety requirements on the electricity system. Loss of mains protection switches off the generator when it detects faults, protecting both it, and the network, from any potential problems.
If your clients own or operate electricity generators, they are responsible for ensuring that these comply with the Distribution Code. They can quickly check whether their equipment is compliant online. This resource provides a free self-serve tool the lets generator owners identify their next steps, based on what generation they own. It also offers an alphabetical list of most manufacturers, along with guidance on whether their equipment is compliant or not.
If not, owners can apply for funding through the Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme (ALoMCP), an industry-wide scheme designed to help update non-compliant generation equipment. The deadline for applications is 10 May 2022. After that, owners will have to pay to update their generators themselves.
Anyone who misses the compliance deadline will also be subject to enforcement action under the Distribution Code regulations. This could result in the de-energisation of their generator sites.
At the time of writing, the ALoMCP provides two levels of funding.
If a simple change of protection device settings is required, owners will receive £1,500 for the first, and an additional £500 per protection device up to a maximum of five.
If the protection relays require a full replacement, £4,000 is available towards replacing each. The level of funding available will start to be reduced from 24 March.
Making the changes may require technical and professional support. All UK Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have a list of recognised contractors who can assess generation equipment and carry out the works where necessary.
This regulation is designed to protect generators and the electricity network alike from potential faults. It also ensures that the system is energy-efficient ready to transition to a low-carbon network. The regulation is mandatory because of the inherent risk that non-compliant generation can pose to power supplies.
Widespread compliance will ensure that generator protection settings are more resilient to potential network disruptions, protecting your power supply and reducing network operating costs. These savings will be passed on to consumers.
A stronger network will also help the energy sector provide more renewable and low-carbon power, helping to reach net zero by 2050. This is essential to decarbonise, and to help mitigate climate change.
If generator owners are already compliant, they simply need to let their local Distribution Network Operator (DNO) know. The DNOs are responsible for the regional electricity networks that serve power to UK homes and businesses, and they must ensure that all assets are registered correctly. Should owners need to make any changes to be compliant, however, the local DNO can recommend recognised contractors for the necessary works, or advise on what to do next.