The UK is on a journey from fossil fuels to a renewable future. We’re moving from our reliance on large-scale power stations, towards a smarter energy grid based on smaller low carbon generators. By generating and exporting your own renewable electricity, you can play a part in decarbonising the UK and generate income.
The road to generation
If you’re new to generation, there are a few steps to take before you can profit from renewable energy.
The essential steps of the journey look a bit like this:
Step 1: Install your renewable asset
Step 2: The Distribution Network Operator (DNO) creates an ‘export MPAN’ (Meter Point Administration Number)
Step 3: Get a Meter Operator Agreement
Step 4: Agree a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
Step 5: Register your MPAN
Step 6: Commissioning contract put in place
Step 7: Meters installed/reprogrammed
Step 8: Data Collection and Aggregation
Step 9: Payments start
Read on to understand more or download Drax’s handy guide.
Setting up your export MPAN
Every electricity supply in the country has a unique MPAN, which allows National Grid to reference and identify each electricity supply point.
To start exporting energy to the grid, you’ll need an ‘export MPAN’.
Registering and using your MPAN
- First, contact your DNO to get your export MPAN. (More on this under ‘Working with DNOs’). This is shared with your supplier to get the right type of meter fitted or programmed.
- Your supplier then puts a ‘spill contract’ in place, which provides data from your export site. Your supplier can then register the site with the Electricity Central Online Enquiry Service (ECOES).
- Your supplier(s) then work with the Meter Operator (MOP) to fit the appropriate meters and share your MPAN with the Meter Point Administration Service (MPAS).
If you’re exporting power, suppliers need your meter to be set up to collect data on a half-hourly basis.
‘Meter Operator Agreement’
MOP agreements are contracts that cover the supply and ongoing maintenance of any meters.
MOP contracts are typically five years and cost around £250-600. They can vary based on technology types, site location, volume and power connection voltage.
Working with Distribution Network Operators
DNOs own and operate the wires, cables, transformers and other equipment that takes electricity from the National Grid network to homes and businesses. If you’re exporting electricity to the grid, your local DNO needs to know about it.
Your generator installer should notify the DNO within 28 days of commissioning your generating assets so your supplier can register an export MPAN.
Finding your DNO
The UK is largely shared between eight regional DNOs, though there are also several independents (IDNOs).
You can find your DNO here.
Getting your data in order
The Data Collector and Data Aggregator (DCDA) are two further third parties, often the same company.
The DC retrieves half-hourly meter readings, and the DA aggregates it to meet industry standards so it can be shared with your supplier.
Why do you need a DCDA?
Validated data is crucial to ensure you receive accurate payments for your power and that your data follows industry procedures. DCDAs are mandatory for every half-hourly electricity supply, whether it’s gathered remotely from a smart meter or requires a site visit to download data from the meter.
Appointing a DCDA
You can choose your DC, but they must be accredited and are ultimately contracted to the supplier. The DA is appointed by the supplier to aggregate half-hourly data so it can be used for billing.
Costs and timings
Every site is different, so there’s no set cost or timeline.
Fees to consider
- Metering – this varies by generation technology type, your MOP contract and how often maintenance is needed.
- Remote communication – it costs to send data between your meter and MOP. Again, these vary, but half-hourly communications mean prompt payments for your power.
- DCDA – you can choose your own DC, or your supplier can appoint a DCDA that covers the entire data process, with fixed fees.
The process can take anywhere from six weeks to well over six months. Factors include:
- Location – will the MOP and DC have to travel far to reach you?
- Technology type – a small solar array is simpler to connect than a complex anaerobic digestion unit in a remote area, or a wind farm that needs multiple meters
- DNOs – speed of MPAN approval can vary, affecting how quickly a supplier can register an MPAN
- Grid connection time
- MPAN and MOP services and contract agreements
Want to know more?
Drax supports over 2,100 renewable generators through their power buying scheme.