Connecting to the grid

The success of a renewable energy feed-in tariff programme, such as GET FiT Uganda, critically depends on the efficiency of connecting new power plants to the main grid for timely and adequate power evacuation.  Since its inception, the GET FiT Programme has supported the Government in the development of policies and standards for connecting small renewable energy projects to the main grid. There have been challenges and lessons learned. This article highlights the challenges, mitigation measures, status update and experiences from 2017 of grid connection for GET FiT projects.
 
 
The Challenge

Since commissioning of the Programme in 2013, connection to the grid of GET FiT power plants has emerged as the major risk to successful implementation. The vast majority of the power plants are located in remote rural areas, particularly in the mountainous regions of Eastern and Western Uganda, where existing grids, if any, were designed to supply low demand. Additionally, the distribution grids in the project areas are often operated by different concessionaires and the evacuated power needs to be wheeled through these intermediate networks (transmitted through a third party network). 
 
To facilitate full evacuation of the power plants under development, new grid infrastructure needed to be built and existing distribution grids sufficiently reinforced. This required the effective coordination of Government agencies, private developers, utilities, and development partners for successful implementation. It was also necessary to develop new standards for grid connection and wheeling, as well as enhance regulatory capacity to ensure compliance by all the sector players.
 
In 2017, the overall risk relating to grid connection across the portfolio has increased. This is due to continued delays in implementation of required grid infrastructure managed by Government Agencies.