NPL to support net zero energy grid

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The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is working with industrial partners to deliver new measurement techniques to support a net zero electricity grid.


NPL is developing, testing and validating new inertia measurements methods, and reference techniques, required to underpin stability and control in the net zero grid. It is working with National Grid ESO (NGESO) to evaluate the accuracy of commercia inertia measurement systems being implemented.

Developing and validating measurement methods for inertia, to provide confidence to UK operators in their adoption, supports security and efficiency in energy supply with increasing renewable energy sources, NPL said.

“A net zero future requires increasing the levels of renewable energy sources and low carbon technologies connected to the power grid,” said Ben Rowton, strategic business development manager for the Energy and Environment sector at NPL.

“NPL’s expertise in developing novel measurement methods and testing standards means we are in an excellent position to support network operators, equipment manufacturers and regulators, to ensure security of supply whilst the UK adopts and deploys innovative products, services and unique operating models.”

For power system operators, a big technical challenge to achieving net zero is the decline of grid inertia which needs to be effectively managed to ensure continued stability and reliability of the power system.

Traditionally, power system operators have relied on inertia provided by fossil-fuelled synchronous generators to prevent frequency excursions that can trigger grid instability. Another issue which could limit net zero progress is the interference and disturbances that can affect connected equipment.

Net zero technology such as renewables, EVs, High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) and energy storage require power converters which inject disturbances into the power system. These disturbances can impact protection systems, grid assets and equipment, and domestic appliances.

Network operators need new measurement methods to identify and quantify the prevailing interference levels to manage and mitigate them and maintain supply quality and reliability to allow the grid to safely host essential net zero technologies.

Pro-actively investigating mitigation methods will ensure issues do not become wide-spread and impact consumers, NPL highlighted. Internationally there is currently no standardisation on how to perform these types of measurements.

NPL has led a European normative project (SupraEMI) which has developed and proposed measurement algorithms for associated international standardisation, providing a clear understanding for development of disturbance measurement capabilities in the UK and guidance to industry.

In collaboration with industry experts, NPL is developing a new measurement system, accreditation-ready test rigs and on-site survey capabilities to support new British grid codes and enable mitigation and grid planning, aiming to overcome issues associated with these disturbances.