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Cold Start

Cold start is a research project that will help us to better understand the future, and keep power supplies running smoothly in a Net Zero world with electrified heat and transport.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 10/03/2020
End date: 09/03/2021
Budget: £184,349

As Net Zero gathers pace, we expect a high level of ‘electrification’ in the future. This means that many sectors will switch from using mainly fossil fuels to mainly electricity. This is particularly true for transport and household heating, which combined make up around 2/3rds of total carbon emissions. In fact, our forecasts suggest there could be 3.6 million electric vehicles and 540,000 electrical heat pumps in our areas alone by 2030.

All this new technology connecting to the electricity networks creates significant new technical challenges, and means that our field engineers could be responding to different types of jobs in the future. It’s also possible this will lead to new consumer behaviors when we restore power locally after a period of time in which the main GB network has remained functional (we call these situations as ‘cold starts’, giving the project its name).

Cold Start will help us to understand how we can plan ahead to make sure power supplies stay 99.9% reliable.

For the project, we’ll build a simulation model of a small area of the electricity network (including consumers) to assess how energy demand responds following a ‘cold start’.

In doing so, we’ll be able to draw conclusions through modelling and simulation to inform our policy around cold starts. It will also help us to identify what future studies on technological applications and/or commercial solutions we could do to help us keep power supplies reliable.

We’re using a software tool to aid the network simulation called EnergyPath® Operations, a tool developed by the Energy Systems Catapult for conducting in-house operational-timescale simulations of energy systems.

The project will model the electricity network, simulate the impact of Net Zero ready technology during a cold start scenario, and inform our future operational response and policies. This is the first time we’ve explored the topic, but as the Net Zero revolution gathers pace it’s critical we look ahead to the future.

This desktop study will inform our policy around cold start operation and will unlock future studies on technological applications and/or commercial solutions for the management of this issue. The simulations will us build upon our strategy for a Net Zero future. These suggestions could then be further studied in a trial (as a potential follow-on Cold Start Phase 2 project) or could be integrated directly into business as usual for all network operators, depending on the complexity and change compared to current methods.


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