Frequently Asked Questions
What is it?
Accelerating Renewable Connections (ARC) is an exciting new initiative to help renewable energy generation projects connect to the distribution power network earlier and reduce connection costs.
It’s a real time operating and control project, using minute-by-minute network information to match electricity supply and demand to make the power network as efficient as possible for energy producers and consumers.
Who is behind it?
ARC is happening in the East Lothian and Borders region of SPEN’s electricity distribution network – an area of 2,700 square kilometres stretching from North Berwick down to Holy Island, and inland as far as Hawick and Galashiels.
How does it work?
Renewable energy generation projects will have the opportunity to connect to the distribution power network sooner if they accept that their energy export will be matched to meet network constraints on a minute by minute basis.
This is called an Actively Managed generation connection and means SPEN can ask these generators to reduce or increase their generation export to meet local electricity demand and other network factors, a process called Active Network Management (ANM).
If more electricity is used, more electricity can be generated in that area.
ARC will also seek to work with local community organisations to develop new ways of matching locally-produced energy with local energy demand, thus creating the opportunity to enable more network access for generators at times when generation export is high.
Why can’t these energy projects export all of the electricity that they produce?
Currently there are many parts of the distribution network where there is more generation than local electricity demand, and if all the generators were working at the same time they would overload the power network.
SPEN has to match energy generation with electricity demand to keep the network safe.
If the network is full up, why connect any more new generation at all?
New generators are needed to meet future electricity demand with clean sources of generation and there are many Government and European targets to increase the level of generation that is sourced from renewable sources. The UK also needs to increase the amount of low-carbon electricity to help meet climate change targets.
We need to find new ways to connect more green energy sources – and this is where ARC comes in.
What’s in it for communities?
ARC provides an opportunity for communities to explore opportunities to consider local energy production or their own community energy scheme and demand as one. By matching local customers to local generators, costs can be reduced and everyone benefits
Why choose East Lothian and Borders for ARC?
East Lothian and Borders is a region of relatively low population and electricity demand.
Generation already exceeds demand in some areas, and some generators operate under constraints. This means they cannot always export their electricity onto the network.
At the same time more new power generation is planned for the future, but SPEN cannot connect this without overloading the networks leading to costly connections and long lead times for generation schemes to access the network.
This background gives SPEN both the challenge and the opportunity to find innovative and cost-effective ways to connect new generation in the area without overloading the network.
How can people get involved in ARC?
You can find out more about ARC at www.arc-project.com or by emailing our Community Relations team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Developers can also find more technical information on the SPEN website at http://www.spenergynetworks.com/pages/arc_accelerating_renewable_connections.asp
Who is paying for this?
ARC is supported by the Low Carbon Networks Fund, an initiative from the energy regular Ofgem to encourage electricity distribution network operators (like SPEN) to test new technology, operating and commercial arrangements.
SPEN were awarded funding by UK energy regulator, Ofgem, following successful completion of the Low Carbon Network Funding Competition, held during 2012. This allocates funding for approved projects from a pot of £500m as part of an innovation initiative fund that can be accessed by all distribution network operators over the years 2010-2015.