Landowners interested in securing income from energy schemes (including renewables, batteries or gas) should not be put off by an apparent lack of grid capacity.

Grid availability is changing all the time, with success often depending on timing.

A new regular check-up service could provide the answer. Roadnight Taylor provides a service that offers quarterly checks, to see if new grid capacity has become available – something which is happening on a regular basis, according to CEO Hugh Taylor.

“Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are constantly upgrading the network to create additional capacity. Alongside this, many large schemes - particularly battery storage projects - are being cancelled, freeing up previously allocated headroom.

“We’ve had a number of cases where we have gone back to re-appraise grid availability, and some has become accessible, enabling projects to proceed which had previously been blocked.”

“DNOs are always investing in the networks, which is creating additional capacity.”

“Some of these reinforcements take years to come to fruition, but once the works are programmed the capacity is up for grabs, and you can apply for it in advance.”

The industry is also investing heavily in flexible connection arrangements, he adds. “Networks are modelled for worst-case scenario conditions, so there is nearly always a lot of spare capacity that’s not being utilised. Actively managed connections enable developers to utilise that headroom. However, to access it for your site you need to know who to ask, what to ask, and how to interpret their answers.”

Finally, the battery storage market has become saturated over the past couple of years, and now many developers are cancelling unviable projects. “If a 20MW storage scheme is cancelled, that new headroom would almost certainly be suitable for a solar farm, if you were able to secure it.”

In the south west, there is a common belief that Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) network has no more capacity – but that simply isn’t the case, he adds. “A few years ago there was an embargo on new connections, but WPD has reconfigured the grid and freed up significantly more space. We carried out a feasibility study in mid-May for a landowner in Devon and found 20MW for a gas genset scheme, worth £1.8m over 30 years for just one acre.”