Network Innovation Allowance

Trading Connections

Project Data

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End date:





This project is investigating a novel approach to increase the speed of connections to the network. It aims to enable appropriate visibility of the UK Power Networks connections queue and allow customers in the queue to trade places, where there is mutual benefit in doing so.

The key benefits of this project will be increased speed of connections to the network, improved customer satisfaction and improved visibility of network capacity.

What is the project about?

When a customer receives a quote for an electrical connection, they join the end of the connections queue. This is the case at all voltage levels, although in many cases at low voltage, there is nobody else in the queue. Once in a queue, customers have no facility to change their queue position. This means they must wait to get to the front of the queue to connect, even if they are ready to connect immediately. Whilst there is significant variance across regions, where reinforcement is required, the time customers may have to wait to energise can range from range from 3 months to 3 years. This duration is mostly driven by the amount and complexity of reinforcement required.

There is an existing initiative by the ENA to improve and accelerate customer connections and UK Power Networks is closely involved with this. However, this initiative does not enable customers to know how much capacity is available on the network or to move themselves from their existing queue position.

More information about the existing ENA initiative is available here: Improving and accelerating customer connections – Energy Networks Association (ENA)

How we’re doing it

A key part of Trading Connections is to understand the requirements of connection customers. The project team is carrying out engagement activities with customers, stakeholders, representatives from other industries and Ofgem. A first workshop was held in May 2024.

We have teamed up with academics from Cambridge University to conduct a literature review on queues, with a particularly focus on electricity connections. If successful, a second phase will be carried out to build and trial the novel system which enables visibility and facilitates trading of queue position. This would involve comprehensive trialling of the digital solution to demonstrate that it meets the requirements set out in the first phase.

What makes it innovative

To the best of our knowledge, the approach of queue trading within electrical connections is not done anywhere else in GB or globally. The project is aware of other industries, such as shipping, that take a similar approach, and a key part of the initial phase of the project is to engage with them and understand how their learnings can be lent to a distribution network application.

What we’re learning

The results of the literature review and stakeholder engagement will be used to finalise a conceptual design for the Trading Connections approach, which will mark the end of the first phase of this project. Learnings from wider economics and other nations have given us much food for thought about how to progress with a proposed solution.

Learnings so far indicate that this idea is of interest to customers, who have been very engaged in discussions. However, there is a lot of perceived risk with introducing a way for customers to improve their queue position. The conceptual design must be carefully considered to create a framework that is perceived as fair and does not lead to unintended negative consequences.

With so much going on at transmission level regarding connection queues, it is likely that the solutions proposed by this project will only work for the Distribution connection queue.

Reports & Documents

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