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Launch of UK’s first coordinated system to boost renewable energy

A first-of-its-kind system to enable more renewable energy to connect to the electricity system, more quickly, has gone live.

From Press releases - 15 December 2020 12:00 AM

The South Coast Regional Development Programme is a collaboration between National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), National Grid Electricity Transmission (ET) and UK Power Networks. UK Power Networks is the first distribution network operator to use the system, which will be rolled out across other participating networks in 2021.

The South Coast has one of the most dynamic electricity networks in Europe, with significant amounts of renewable energy generation, a nuclear power station and interconnecting cables to Europe. This makes managing electricity flows a complex challenge for transmission and distribution companies. The new system will directly connect the local network operator’s control room with the control room at the national system operator, giving them more visibility and control to keep the system balanced. 

The roll-out of the system will enable up to 600MW of distributed energy resources (DER) to be connected in the region, based on the scenarios originally considered in the Regional Development Plan’s design phase.

Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid at UK Power Networks, said: “If we want to enable net zero by 2050 then we cannot afford to wait, and that’s why we have adopted a ‘trial by doing’ approach, working closely with the national transmission system operator to deliver cost-effective solutions.  

“This is the first time in the UK that we see a distribution and a transmission system operator coordinating in real time, supporting the wider system. I’m delighted that we’re collaborating with National Grid to make it a reality, as it will ultimately deliver benefits for our customers.”

Julian Leslie, head of networks at National Grid ESO, said, “The delivery of the first phase of this project is a significant step forward in coordinating the planning and operation between the ESO and DNOs. As we move towards net zero, it’s critical that we can all make best use of the zero carbon resources connected to electricity networks and joined-up functionality, as demonstrated through this project, will be vital to achieving that goal.”

Building on this work, UK Power Networks and National Grid ESO are now developing the next stage of their Regional Development Programme in the South East. This will involve putting in place new commercial and technical arrangements to incentivise electricity generators to further support the national transmission system.

UK Power Networks and National Grid ESO have been working alongside other networks through the Energy Network Association’s Open Networks project, to enable the solution they have developed to be rolled out nationwide.

Randolph Brazier, director of innovation and electricity systems, at Energy Networks Association, which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses said: “New smart technologies are challenging the traditional way we generate, consume and manage electricity, and the energy networks are making sure that these changes benefit everyone. This groundbreaking collaboration between UK Power Networks and National Grid ESO will enable better planning and operation of the electricity networks, see communities being empowered and more renewable generation being connected. Network operators are focused on supporting the Prime Minister’s vision for climate action so this is an important step forward in the sort of collaboration that will be required to deliver the net zero energy system the public need.”