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Constellation will create revolutionary smart substations which free up capacity for renewable energy to facilitate Net Zero emissions.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 04/05/2021
End date: 30/09/2025
Budget: £17,823,000

We’re adapting to increasingly complex power flows by becoming smarter, so we can safely release more capacity and enable more renewable energy to connect at lower cost – saving customers money and helping the environment at the same time.

Constellation is a world-first innovation project that will see powerful computers installed in a series of substations, turning them into smart substations. This will enable each local substation to analyse millions of data points on how the network is running and reconfigure the network based on specific conditions. Optimising our substations in this way will free up capacity and help facilitate the rise in renewable energy generation.

We estimate that by 2030, the Constellation solutions could save customers £132 million if rolled out across the UK. The methods we’re trialling could also enable carbon savings of 1.9 million tCO2 by 2030.

We’re determined to facilitate Net Zero by innovating to free up capacity for more renewable energy, electric vehicles and electric heating. To do that, we need to upgrade the capabilities of our local substations to make them more intelligent, digital, coordinated and secure. Constellation is aiming to achieve that by creating a scalable, flexible, future proofed system for local intelligence that works in partnership with our central network management system. The project is focusing on two key methods:

  • Local intelligent control, meaning our substations can forecast and analyse local power flows to keep generators already connected to our network running smoothly and efficiently
  • Wide area and adaptive protection, which will allow our substations to communicate which each other using 5G to calculate the most efficient possible configurations and settings to maximise the capacity available for new renewable energy resources

Constellation includes experts from several project partners: ABB, General Electric, the University of Stathclyde’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC), Siemens and Vodafone.

Constellation is a world first project that marks a transformation in the way electricity networks operate. It will enable local substations to analyse millions of datapoints on how the network is running, meaning the network can reconfigure itself to safely enable higher volumes of electricity to flow. It will also provide a foundation for many other smart solutions in the future, creating even more benefits for customers.

Constellation will deliver detailed technical insights on how world-first smart substations can revolutionise the way our networks are run. We’ll work with our expert partners to create a platform and test the new technology and the University of Stathclyde’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) in Glasgow, Scotland. After we’ve completed thorough testing, we’ll trial the new smart substations at locations across our network areas in the South East.

The new Constellation platform will be scalable to other network in Great Britain and globally. Our aim is to develop  a collaborative environment that focuses end users and multiple suppliers’ efforts to producing real benefits for our customers. As part of the trial we’ll also kick-start an eco-system for suppliers to innovate in the substation environment by opening up substation computation platforms.

The insights from the trials will also help us identify the technical standards and requirements to rolling out constellation across our network.

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