To facilitate the connection of renewable generation to the electricity grid whilst respecting Northern Ireland’s landscape and cultural heritage, NIE Networks intends, in appropriate circumstances, to group or "cluster" generators (generally on shore wind farms) so that they will share network infrastructure. Where there is insufficient potential generation in an area to justify a cluster, then generators would continue to be connected on an individual basis to the 33kV system.
Benefits of Clustering
The benefits of a shared connection compared to individual connections are generally not about lower cost of connection, but rather about the reduction in environmental and visual impact achieved from having only one main circuit to serve a number of wind farms. This circuit terminates in a hub or local substation in the vicinity of the wind farms. The wind farms are then connected by short individual 33kV lines to this local hub substation.
Clustering large wind farm generators also offers advantages in managing information and control related to that part of the system and could permit single point rather than distributed solutions to other engineering problems arising from high levels of renewable energy penetration.
Location of Clusters
For more information on the where the clusters already connected are along with those in the construction and planning processes have a look at our latest cluster map update. [link opens in new window]