The company, which delivers power supplies in Kent, has contributed a further £450,000 towards the Kent Active System Management project, which is part of Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund initiative.
During the next three years, the money will be invested in new software to cope with growing use of the network by wind and solar farms in the region, as well as from electricity being exported to Britain from mainland Europe via ‘interconnectors’.
Traditionally, electricity flows downstream through UK Power Networks’ system in one direction from power stations to the consumer. In East Kent, however, power flows are less predictable because more electricity is generated from intermittent renewable sources being exported upstream.
As a result, certain supply points on the national transmission system in East Kent, operated by the National Grid, have seen significant increases in the amount of electricity being exported. The new IT systems will link up UK Power Networks and National Grid’s control centres for the first time, allowing both to prepare more easily for these less predictable power flows.
Project leader Matthieu Michel, technology innovation manager at UK Power Networks, said: “We are delighted to secure funding for the project in Kent which will run over a period of three years. Once implemented, this IT system will help us safely operate our network closer to its limits, release network capacity and defer the need for significant customer-funded power upgrades. It will also reduce the amount of renewable electricity output that we need to curtail during essential maintenance or equipment faults.”
The IT system will be able to analyse what could happen if a power line and a transformer failed to work while wind power output was at peak, for example. At the moment that ‘worst case scenario’ planning is done manually and is conservative to protect the reliability of power supplies for homes and businesses. The new contingency analysis software will give planning engineers more advanced techniques to make maximum use of any spare capacity on the network.
Once the system is delivered and successfully tested, engineers hope it will be replicable across Britain, potentially delivering millions of pounds in savings compared to current arrangements.
For more information about the company’s innovation work, visit the website.
For further information please contact Niamh Arnett in the UK Power Networks press office on 0845 302 7292.