Major project launched to boost electricity generation in UK

5th July 2017
Alice Matthews

In order to enable more electricity generation across the South East of England, UK Power Networks and National Grid are launching an innovative new service. The region has one of the most dynamic electricity networks in Europe. Significant amounts of renewable energy generation, a nuclear power station and interconnecting cables to Europe make management of the electricity flows a complex challenge for the transmission and distribution network companies, which own and operate the cables and wires.

The new service marks a significant step towards UK Power Networks becoming a Distribution Systems Operator and enabling customers to connect to the network faster, cheaper and more easily. At present, new electricity generators in some areas of Kent and Sussex in the South East of England can face significant costs in connecting to the network, due to transmission network constraints.

UK Power Networks has been working in collaboration with National Grid to develop a new framework that allows electricity generators to connect to the grid without requiring costly reinforcements on the transmission network in a region, from Bolney in Sussex to Canterbury in Kent.  UK Power Networks will use visibility, co-ordination and control to ensure customers can export more of their energy onto the national transmission network.

New generation customers connecting in the region will be offered the opportunity to participate in the service. This new offering went live this week and it is anticipated that the service will be extended to existing customers in the future.

New commercial arrangements will be developed and put in place over time to incentivise electricity generators to offer this type of flexible service - whereby they can increase or decrease their output to help balance the operation of the national transmission network.

The new service demonstrates National Grid’s commitment to work with distribution network companies and develop solutions that result in lowest cost for GB consumers. National Grid’s input is through its Future Role of System Operator (FRSO) programme that was launched with BEIS and Ofgem in January to extend its System Operator activities and promote whole system operation.

National Grid and UK Power Networks have worked together and through the Energy Network Association’s Open Networks project to develop these arrangements. Sharing the knowledge gained with other distribution network operators is a key aim of this project.

Sotiris Georgiopoulos, Head of Smart Grid at UK Power Networks, said: “The role of the distribution networks is changing, and we need to work closely with the national transmission network operator to deliver cost-effective solutions. 

“This is the first time in the UK that we see the distribution systems operator role in action, 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.”

Nick Easton, Programme Manager Whole System (Electricity System Operator), at National Grid said: “We are committed to working with network operators to facilitate the transition to a smart, flexible electricity system. In doing so we will be able to optimise planning, investment and operational processes across the whole electricity system.

“As well as benefiting customers, this work is going to provide more capacity for renewable energy in a constrained area. For the first time we will see the positive impact of what can be achieved when network operators work with the system operator to make things better for our customers, and this will set the scene for what we can achieve in future.”

David Smith, Chief Executive of the Energy Networks Association, said: “The UK’s electricity networks play a vital role in connecting new homes, businesses and renewable generators to the grid and have a strong track record of meeting growing demand in recent years. Innovation and new technologies will be crucial to ensuring we continue to meet growing demand for connections efficiently and at the lowest cost, and this project demonstrates how ENA members are working across the industry to deliver exciting new services that meet the needs of customers and the economy.

"Their work doesn’t stop here, however. Both UK Power Networks and National Grid are also playing an important role in the ENA Open Networks Project, which will lay the foundations of the smart grid in the UK, helping ensure that this kind of innovation becomes business as usual.”

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