The application window for the fourth annual batch of grid connection offers under ECP-2 has now closed.
ECP-2 is the CRU’s current pathway for onshore generators, storage, and other system services technology projects to connect to the Irish electricity system.
Bilateral grid connection agreements between EirGrid as Transmission System Operator (TSO) and ESB Networks as Distribution System Operator (DSO) respectively and generators or demand users apportion scarce grid connection capacity to those entities. The system operators each issue grid connection offers pursuant to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU)’s policy directions on the terms and conditions of access to Ireland’s electricity grid.
The ECP Stages
The first stage of the CRU’s development of the Enduring Connection Policy (ECP) under which the system operators issue grid connection offers was ECP-1, which provided for a single batch of connection offers and was aimed at shovel ready projects in 2018.
In 2020, the CRU published its decision on ECP-2, which set policy for three annual batches of connection offers with a target of 115 connection offers in total for each ECP-2 batch year. Then, in April 2023, the CRU extended ECP-2 by publishing the ECP-2.4 decision to address the volume of grid connection applications and facilitate a transition while a new connection policy is being developed.
ECP-2.4 – Category A
ECP-2.4 consists of a single batch window which opened on 1 October 2023 and closed on 30 November 2023 for Category A applicants (i.e. applications with a maximum export capacity (MEC) of greater than 500kW).
ECP-2.4 targets 100 connection offers in total for the batch period. This reduction is in recognition of the expected pipeline of projects and the workload of the TSO and DSO in processing offers.
The Category A offer target is 70. In the event that the ECP-2.4 batch Category A was oversubscribed, the first 25 offers are prioritised for the largest renewable energy generators and the remainder for the earliest planning permission grant date, with no more than 10 offers to be made for storage and system service technology projects.
ECP-2.4 – Category B & C
Category B is open for:
- small projects with an MEC between 0.2MW and 0.5MW;
- system services trial projects delivered pursuant to EirGrid’s ‘Delivering a Secure, Sustainable Electricity System’ programme (DS3) with an MEC below 0.5MW; and
The offer target is 15, with applications prioritised by the earliest application “received complete date”, which is assigned to a project once that project has submitted an application form which contains a certain minimum amount of information.
Category C is open for 100% community-owned renewable energy projects with an MEC between 0.5MW and 5MW. The offer target is 15, prioritised by planning permission grant date and then by earliest application received complete date.
Following the closure of the application window, the batch will now be formed over the next three months in accordance with the respective guidelines for prioritisation outlined above. Once formed, the TSO and DSO will target issuance of all batch offers by the end of February 2025.
Contributed by Colm Booth, Matthew Smith