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Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme
The accelerated loss of mains change programme is an industry-wide project that is taking place across Great Britain (not Northern Ireland). It is being run by the National Grid and Network Operators (DNOs). After some delay, it is due to commence in August 2019.
The purpose of the programme is to update Loss of Mains (LoM) protection for renewable electricity generators with a view to reducing the risk of needless tripping. The approach taken to achieve this aim is to relax the RoCoF limits (rate-of-change-of-frequency) on the grid.
Background to accelerated loss of mains change programme
Distributed generation, such as renewable generators like wind turbines, hydro schemes and solar PV needs to be fitted with Loss of Mains protection. This has usually been provided by RoCoF or Vector Shift (VS) relays. These technologies are intended to prevent the formation of power islands and they should not operate in the case of faults that do not cause islanding. However, RoCoF relays were programmed to trip when sensing rates of change of frequency as low as 0.125 Hzs-1 and both these and VS relays have been found to trip in response to transmission faults that do not cause islanding. This can then exacerbate problems and lead to Low Frequency Demand Disconnection and unnecessary loss of demand.
With 50,000 distributed generation sites supplying 15GW, this situation presents a significant risk to the security of supply. The current practice of managing risk by limiting the largest losses and increasing inertia in the system, meanwhile, is costly; over £100 million in 2018. These costs are ultimately borne by consumers.
The accelerated loss of mains change programme will affect G59 connected renewable energy generators connected before February 2018, which have their loss of mains protection provided by either VS relays or RoCoF relays with settings more sensitive than required by the Distribution Code. It is proposed that RoCoF relays be adjusted to 1Hzs-1 with a definite time delay of 500ms and VS relays be removed where used as loss of mains protection. These changes should be made as soon as possible and no later than April 2022. The Energy Networks Association has more details here.
Grant funding available
In order to encourage rapid compliance with the accelerated loss of mains change programme, generators will be paid for making these changes. These payments will be fixed-rate sums, rather than tailored to individual circumstances. The rates paid for the work are envisaged to be as follows:
- Between £1,000 and £1,500 where only a change in settings is required.
- Between £2,500 and £4,000 where a physical change in relay is required.
It should be noted that these payments are made on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis and the funding is time-limited. Applications for funding will be accepted until the cost of the application is more than the cost of alternative solutions.
It should also be noted that this is the first in a three-stage process for ensuring compliance. The second stage is an unfunded requirement to comply and the third stage is enforcement, with fines for non-compliance.
Clearly, then, it is the generation owner’s best interest to act quickly and secure the funding available. Indeed, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) advice is that: “applying early maximises the opportunity of being accepted.”
The accelerated loss of mains change programme process
According to the ENA an online portal for funding applications will be made available on the websites of all Distribution Network Operators, Independent Distribution Network Operators, National Grid Electricity System Operator, and Energy Networks Association.
The generation owner will be asked to upload the following information in support of their application:
- Generation type
- Existing Loss of Mains (LoM) relay type and setting
- Relevant Network Operator
- Lead time for change
The following graphic from ENA summarises the process.
How Locogen can help
ENA has said that “A list of businesses/individuals willing to undertake the works on behalf of site owners/operators will be made available.”
This list has now been created and is available on the ENA website.
Locogen is listed as a supporting organisation and intends to carry out this work for new and existing clients.
What to do now.
If you have not yet received an email from us, please drop us a line at email@example.com with your contact details. We will then be in touch when the ENA’s application portal goes live. At this point we will be happy to work with you to check all the information required for your application and then schedule and carry out the works.
If you’ve already had an email from us, you don’t need to do anything. We’ll be in touch with you again when the Accelerated Loss of Mains Programme Portal goes live. Please feel free to get in touch with us If you'd like to discuss your own generation asset in the meantime.