Access rights and grid connection to transmission and distribution networks in Spain, Circular 1/2021

On 22 January 2021, the National Commission on Markets and Competition (NCMC) in Spain published Circular 1/2021, which regulates access rights and grid connection to transmission and distribution networks by electrical energy producers (Circular). Circular 1/2021 finalises developing access rights and grid connection, a key factor for the correct execution of future renewable projects in Spain. Circular 1/2021 constitutes a regulatory principle to grant third-party grid access to the network, preventing discrimination.

Application scope of Circular 1/2021

Circular 1/2021 considers applicants for access rights and grid connection permits in electricity transmission and distribution networks for electricity generation facilities. It also extends to the owners and operators of these networks.

Application for access rights and grid connection permits

Circular 1/2021 sets out the minimum contents which access and connection permits must include. It also focuses on the detailed conditions for grid operators to accept or refuse the application, totally or partially. The minimum content of the application is:

  • Identification of the applicant and their contact details
  • Copy of the receipt accrediting the economic guarantee deposit (Article 23 of Royal Decree 1183/2020, dated 29 December)
  • Evidence of submission by the developer of the application for the environmental impact study, ordinary or simplified as appropriate
  • Preliminary project of the electricity generation facility

In some specific cases, Circular 1/2021 provides a shortened procedure that reduces the amount of necessary documentation.

The application is analysed to be accepted or rejected, providing the relevant justifications for each decision. If accepted, the application shall include the technical and economic conditions for its granting. The refusal of the access and connection permits may only be based on lack of access capacity.

Circular 1/2021 also considers revoking and amending applications for access and connection and drawing up compensation agreements upon some established requirements.

Access disputes

In the event of disagreement at the stage of obtaining access rights and grid connection permits, the party directly affected may submit a request for dispute resolution to the competent body.

The maximum time limit for submitting such a request shall be one month since the applicant realizes the event giving rise to the claim.

The time limit for the resolution and notification of this procedure shall be two months, extendable to two additional months if additional information is required or if so stated by the applicant.

Technical contract for grid access

After obtaining the grid access and connection permits, the next step is to sign the technical contract within five months. Circular 1/2021 regulates the minimum contents and prohibits the inclusion of more demanding technical conditions than those included in the request’s analysis.

Other aspects to consider

One additional feature is that Circular 1/2021 promotes high transparency on behalf of grid operators and owners. There is an obligation to publish on their websites the characteristics of the substations with a power greater than 1kv that they operate.

It is worth highlighting that the annexes to Circular 1/2021 include a series of necessary technical criteria to:

  • Evaluating access capacity
  • Assessing connection feasibility
  • Establishing the influence of the production facility on a different grid other than the one to which it is connected

Conclusions

Renewable energy sources are gaining ground in production development, whether as large-scale installations, distributed generation, or self-consumption. The viability of grid access and connection is closely linked to the availability of sufficient grid capacity.

Circular 1/2021 includes a decisive factor allowing new projects to enter the market. It is relevant because of Royal Decree-Law 23/2020, which establishes some mandatory deadlines for obtaining such permits.

If you require legal advice regarding Circular 1/2021 on access rights and grid connection to transmission and distribution networks

This article is not considered legal advice

Irene Terrazas

A licensed attorney with a Law degree and a double Master's degree, Irene Terrazas specialises in public procurement, business law and company law. Working languages: Spanish, English and French. For any query Contact Irene Terrazas