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Concept and main effects of the Shared Evacuation Infrastructures of electricity generation facilities

One of the most relevant phenomena in the current electricity sector, given its progressive liberalization and the massive arrival of private capital, has been the proliferation of new electricity generation facility projects (named in Spanish as “IGE”), making use of renewable energy sources and, with them, the parallel development of private projects for the evacuation infrastructure for the energy produced by these IGEs.

Indeed, compared to the projects promoted under, among others, the R.D. 661/2007 or R.D. 1578/2008, the increasing dimension of the IGEs and their dispersion (not only geographically but also at the capital level) has motivated that, together with the substations and lines that belong to the Transmission and Distribution Grid (RdT and RdD, respectively) to which the IGEs connect, a series of parallel infrastructures arise whose purpose is to serve as common elements for the evacuation of the contingent of energy generated by private developers. It is what we commonly know as evacuation nodes.

Connection node vs evacuation node

In the first place, a terminological precision is required to avoid confusion, since one thing is a “node” and another, although closely related, is what in the jargon of the sector is called an “evacuation node”.

Thus, the art. 2 of Royal Decree 1183/2020, of December 29th, on access and connection to the electricity transmission and distribution networks, defines what is to be understood as a node (or connection node), but also refers to the connection point and to the position, all terms that refer to the same reality, that is, the exact place of the RdT or RdD where the IGEs are connected, so that the connection permission obtained from the network manager is “to a specific point of the network” (art. 2.b and d of R.D. 1183/2020) which is known, according to the same art. 2.f, as a position, that is, “each of the points that allow the physical connection […] in a node […]” understood by this, according to letter e) of the aforementioned art. 2 that “electrical point where three or more power lines or transformers with the same voltage level come together.

Therefore, in the case referred to in this post, we speak of a node, in the strict sense, of the RdT or RdD as the point (generally substation) to which the IGEs connect.

However, until reaching this point in the network, belonging to either R.E.E. or to any of the distribution companies, the existence of what is known as evacuation nodes is required, that is, those elements (lines and substations, both collectors and transformers) owned by private developers and whose essential function is the evacuation of the energy generated by the IGEs of the promoters up to the same point of connection to the RdT or RdD.

The necessary agreement between the promoters on the evacuation nodes

Once the concepts have been delimited, we are in the presence of an undeniably current phenomenon and to which the administration has reacted by introducing specific measures for evacuation nodes of importance for all those who intend to promote IGE.

The main one of these measures is established by art. 123.2 of Royal Decree 1955/2000, of December 1st, which regulates the activities of transportation, distribution, commercialization, supply and authorization procedures for electrical energy facilities, introduced by Royal Decree 1183/2020, according to which:

In the case of lines that fulfil functions of evacuation for electrical energy production facilities, in no case may the prior administrative authorization of the evacuation infrastructures of a generation facility be granted without the prior provision of a document, signed by all the holders of facilities with access and connection permits granted at the finish line position to the substation of the transmission or distribution network, as appropriate in each case, which proves the existence of a binding agreement for the parties in relation to the shared use of evacuation infrastructures. For these purposes, the aforementioned document may be provided at the time of making the request referred to in the previous section or at any time during the procedure for obtaining prior administrative authorization.

What is hidden behind this legal jargon is a very simple idea with deep legal, technical and, of course, economic significance: developers with access and connection permits granted in the RdT or RdD who wish to obtain prior administrative authorization (AAP) must, previously, reach an agreement with the other promoters with similar permits in the network to which they are going to connect so that this generation is evacuated through common facilities.

Therefore, the main effect is eminently legal-administrative since, on the one hand, it constitutes an essential requirement for obtaining the AAP, but, on the other hand, it is also essential for obtaining the pertinent environmental authorization, since we cannot forget that, based on the provisions of both art. 53 of Law 24/2013, of December 26th, of the Electricity Sector, as in art. 115 of the aforementioned R.D. 1955/2000, the substantive body in charge of granting the AAP will not move a finger (beyond the necessary and common phase of public information) until the environmental authorization is obtained (generally known, although not always, as DIA), since we are talking about a requirement that is intended to prevent each promoter from waging war on their own, individually and without consideration for the environment, which many say they come to save.

The second effect is of a technical nature, understood in a broad sense, since, once the access and connection permits have been obtained and when preparing the project that will serve as the basis for the AAP and the environmental authorization, the promoter must contact with the remaining promoters with access and connection in the substation on duty (their identification constitutes an essential part of the previous proposal of the network manager in accordance with article 12.2 of R.D. 1183/2020) and coordinate with them the project of the common evacuation infrastructures at the level of both energy authorizations (AAP, AAC and AAE), as well as environmental, local authorizations (urban qualifications and authorizations for the use of rural land) and various reprints.

The last of the effects, essential for the financing of the projects (let us not forget the significant initial investment costs in the field of renewables), is of an economic nature and not at all detrimental to the promoters since the agreement with the other interested parties in the zone entails a much more rational and distributed cost structure which always helps to ease the financial pressure on individual developers.

The content of the agreement on evacuation nodes

Well, the aforementioned agreement of art. 123.2 of R.D. 1955/2000 is usually reflected in cumbersome agreements of promoters whose main aspects are usually the following:

  1. The specification of both the intervening promoters and the promoted IGEs and the related and necessary infrastructures for the evacuation of the contingent of generated energy.
  2. The designation of one of the promoters as a representative of all of them before the Administration and before the network manager (given the disappearance of the Interlocutor Único de Nudo with R.D. 1183/2020).
  3. The delimitation of the administrative actions that are entrusted to the representative promoter, as well as its liability regime for non-compliance with the terms of the authorization procedure (essential given the necessary accreditation of administrative milestones).
  4. Determination of the economic budget to meet the various payments for said infrastructure processing (CEP, guarantees, fees…) and the consequences of non-compliance by any of the promoters.
  5. The necessary agreement in order to transfer the administrative files and before the manager of the network in which there is access and connection after the conclusion of all the processing.
  6. The agreement of the promoters on the creation of the SPV that is to acquire ownership of the evacuation infrastructures.

In future posts we will go through the main circumstances of the asset management of said SPVs and the internal agreements between the partnered promoter in order to configure an ecosystem in which they (let us not forget commercial entities with purely commercial and individual economic interests) have the due comfort to ensure their investments and their financing as well as the normal development of the activity of evacuation of the generated energy contingent, being essential for this the role of a professional manager specialized in the electricity sector such as aBalados.