ScottishPower is set to embark on a pioneering project with the ambition of completely revolutionising the electricity network in Glasgow by developing the UK’s largest ‘Smart Grid’.
The company plans to devise and install technology that will significantly improve the reliability and quality of electricity supplies as well as increasing energy efficiency and reducing bills. A smart grid will also allow households who generate their own electricity the ability to easily sell excess power back to the grid and help facilitate a network capable of supporting widespread use of electric vehicles. Ultimately, the new technology will have a major impact in the reduction of carbon emissions.
As part of the Clyde Gateway project, a regeneration scheme in the east end of Glasgow, ScottishPower is already developing a localised Smart Grid proposal where ‘next generation’ technology is being developed and trials are already being carried out.
The company has set-up a dedicated team of engineers to work on the concept, using its own investment as well as seeking funds from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the energy regulator Ofgem. An application for funding from DECC under The Low Carbon Investment Fund (£6m) has been made by ScottishPower. The ambition is to demonstrate the latest smart grid technology and use the learning to develop proposals for wider and larger scale smart grid applications across Glasgow and our UK operations.
Frank Mitchell, Director of ScottishPower Energy Networks, explained: “Historically, the flow of electricity has been a one-way process, from large power stations to the plug. Now, with increasing renewable electricity production and the opportunity for individual households to generate their own power which can be fed back into the grid, the existing network is fast becoming outdated. A smart grid requires the application of new intelligent technology to the existing electricity network so that its operation can be optimised for the twenty first century.”
Frank Mitchell continued: “In order to move our homes and workplaces towards being carbon neutral, we need to use technology to manage and control the appliances we use more efficiently. This will also increase energy efficiency and reduce bills. Smart grids will be able to automatically start selected appliances, such as washing machines, or even factory equipment when the cost of electricity is at its lowest in off-peak hours. During the periods of highest usage it could do the opposite, turning off unnecessary appliances to reduce demand and save energy.
“The reality of this technology and the benefits it will offer to customers is not far away. The work we are doing on the Clyde Gateway project and across Glasgow will see the development of Smart Grids taking significant strides forward.”
Intelligent monitoring devices will keep track of all electricity flowing in the system so that it operates in the most efficient manner. A smart grid will balance the power produced by micro-generation with larger scale generation such as wind power as well as traditional power stations. It will also be designed to allow the grid to reconfigure itself in the event of a fault or excess demand so that interruptions to supplies are minimised.
ScottishPower recently announced that it plans to increase its trials of smart meters, which will be an essential part of the smart grid concept. They will be installing up to 100,000 new meters in properties over the next two years before the full UK roll-out begins. Ultimately the UK is aiming to develop full smart grid capabilities over the next two decades, but the project in Glasgow gives ScottishPower the opportunity to develop the largest in the UK to begin with.
The company is planning to work with a range of academics and public bodies in order to deliver the project in Glasgow.
Notes to Editors:
ScottishPower has applied for funding from DECC to develop Smart Grid proposals, as announced in the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan in July 2009.
Ofgem also recently announced a £500 million sustainability fund that will allow electricity distribution companies to undertake large-scale trials of smart grids and other technology required in a low carbon economy.
The EU has also announced that it wants to select 25 to 30 European cities to pioneer green technologies by 2020, with funding available for Smart Grid technology.
Media Information: Simon McMillan, 0141 566 4875 / 07753 622 257