Grid connection biggest concern for wind, solar and storage projects

Concern about delays and change to rules for grid connections has emerged as the major concern for developers of wind, solar and storage projects in Australia, overtaking the perennial issue of long term investment certainty.

According to a new survey of 60 executives by the Clean Energy Council, grid connection has emerged as the major issue because of a combination of delays, shifting rules, and resulting cost over-runs, and the assessment by the market operator that some networks – such as in north west Victoria – simply don’t have the capacity to accept new projects.

The impact on the industry has already been significant, with some projects delayed or abandoned, others having to turn to technologies such as synchronous condensers to move forward, and contractors caught out by high costs, missed milestone payments, and damages claims.

The collapse of engineering and contracting giant RCR Tomlinson – and its subsequent withdrawal from the solar sector – has been the most high profile of these.

CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said industry executives now rated grid connection and network access as the number one business challenge facing the industry, with policy uncertainty close behind.

“We absolutely acknowledge that grid operators and network businesses are dealing with more applications to connect to the grid than they have ever seen, but project developers need transparency and certainty about how long the process will take and what it is likely to cost,” he said in a statement.

Nathan Scholz