National Grid and regional operators boost resilience

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National Grid and regional network operators are integrating more closely to accommodate increased decentralised and renewable generation.

national grid
(Credit: National Grid)

Part of National Grid’s Regional Development Plan (RDP), the first step in the overhaul, has seen a new system introduced to manage electricity flows between the national system and South East England’s regional system, which is run by UK Power Networks (UKPN). Up to 600MW of distributed energy resources (DERs) in the South East – which up until now have not been fully integrated with the national system – can now link to UK’s primary grid even under difficult conditions such as when faults occur on the network. This is facilitated by a new system that links the local control room of UKPN to the centralised control room of National Grid, providing better visibility and helping to keep a balanced electricity supply.

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“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,” said Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid at UK Power Networks.

“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.”

With an abundance of solar and wind power, the south coast is one of the UK’s most dynamic regions for electricity generation. Under National Grid’s overarching plan, UKPN will soon be followed by Scottish and Southern Energy Networks and Western Power Distribution, both of which also operate assets along the south coast. The overall effect will be to add grid resilience and provide a boost for renewables, according to National Grid.

“The delivery of the first phase of this project is a significant step forward in coordinating the planning and operation between the ESO (Electricity System Operator) and DNOs (Distribution Network Operators),” said Julian Leslie, head of networks at National Grid ESO.

“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.”