National Grid ESO, National Grid Electricity Transmission and UK Power Networks (UKPN) have launched a new system to enable increased renewable energy connections through greater network visibility.

The system has been developed as part of the South Coast Regional Development Programme, and will directly connect the local network operator’s control room with National Grid ESO’s control room, resulting in higher levels of visibility and control to keep the system balanced.

In turn, the rollout of this system will enable up to 600MW of distributed energy resources (DERs) to be connected in the region.

Managing the electricity flows in the region is a complex challenge for transmission and distribution, the companies said, with the South Coast having one of the “most dynamic electricity networks in Europe” with large amounts of renewables, a nuclear power station and interconnecting cables to Europe.

UKPN is the first distribution network operator (DNO) to use the new system, although it will be rolled out across other participating networks in 2021, with UKPN and National Grid ESO working with the other networks through the Energy Networks Association’s Open Networks project.

UKPN’s head of smart grid, Sotiris Georgiopoulos, lauded the project as being the first time in the UK a distribution and transmission system operator coordinating in real time, adding he is “delighted that we’re collaborating with National Grid to make it a reality”.

“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.”

UKPN and National Grid ESO are now developing the next phase of their Regional Development Programme in the South East, which will involve putting in place new commercial and technical arrangements to incentivise electricity generators to further support the national transmission system.

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