ScottishPower has been successful in an innovation competition run by Ofgem to secure funding for a pilot project that will utilise new technology to enhance the operation of local electricity networks, aiming to reduce the need for new infrastructure such as substations and underground cables. The £6m pilot project will focus on local electricity networks in St Andrews, Wrexham and Whitchurch.
Funding has been provided from the Ofgem-led Low Carbon Network Fund. The ScottishPower ‘Flexible Network’ project has a total value of around £6.2m, with ScottishPower contributing £2.6m to the project. The initiative will cover over 16,000 homes and businesses and facilitate their future electricity needs such as the uptake of electric vehicles, heat pumps and the use of micro generation such as solar panels and wind generation.
The company will work with a number of partners at the University of Strathclyde’s Power Network Demonstration Centre to develop new technology and modify existing equipment that seeks to increase the capacity of the electricity network at a lower cost and with less disruption than traditional investment solutions.
Traditionally, if demand on a local electricity network increases, then the construction of new substations, underground cables and overhead lines are required. This project will explore alternative solutions to traditional methods by using a variety of unique technologies and the targeted application of energy efficiency measures to reduce electricity consumption in homes and businesses. These technologies include dynamic thermal rating which takes account of the natural cooling of equipment to increase its operating capabilities, and flexible network control which enables increased automation of the electricity network to more efficiently balance demand.
Frank Mitchell, CEO of Energy Networks at ScottishPower, said: “ScottishPower is committed to the development of new technology that helps to optimise the operation of the electricity network and facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy. The project we are working on has the potential to not only offer significant savings in the cost to operate the network, but also to allow new generation and demand to connect to the network faster.
“In recent years we have seen an unparalleled amount of new micro generation installed at homes and businesses, such as solar panels and small scale wind turbines, and demand for new technology such as electric vehicles is set to keep increasing. The way people interact with the electricity network is changing and it is vital that ScottishPower continues to expand our knowledge and understanding of how best to manage our networks in the future.”
Graeme Burt, Director of the Institute for Energy and Environment at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Strathclyde has a long-standing research collaboration with ScottishPower, and we are delighted to be contributing to this major innovative project.
“This builds on a significant body of smart grid research work underway at Strathclyde, and provides a valuable opportunity for the academic and researcher teams to contribute to the deployment and testing of new solutions for the integration of low carbon technologies.
“It is encouraging that the Power Network Demonstration Centre is being recognised as a key enabler for the acceleration of technologies fundamental to the delivery of smarter, more flexible power networks.”
The three sites of St Andrews, Wrexham and Whitchurch will allow for a range of scenarios to be explored due to diversity in the likely uptake of different technologies in each area.
ScottishPower is working with a number of partners to deliver the project. TNEI, BRE and Nortech are providing key services and bring with them extensive experience to assist with the realisation of this project. The University of Strathclyde is also providing support with the research activities linked to the project.
Dr Graeme Bathurst of the power system consultancy TNEI commented: "This is an exciting project with the right balance of innovation and real world delivery. A key element is the holistic approach, which not only trials new ways of releasing network capacity but will also help ensure these new techniques become business as usual".
Notes to editors:
BRE is an independent, research-based consultancy, testing, certification and training organization, offering expertise in every aspect of the built environment and associated industries. We collaborate with clients to create better, safer and more sustainable products, buildings, communities and businesses. BRE is owned by registered charity the BRE Trust who fund educational and research programmes for the benefit of society and ensure that our independence and integrity remain uncompromised. www.bre.co.uk
TNEI is an independent, ambitious and dynamic company with a strategy to respond quickly to market changes be they technical, regulatory, economic, environmental or political. Headquartered in Newcastle, the company has grown significantly since its launch in 1995 and has built a team of over 60 consultants across two offices in Newcastle and Manchester. www.tnei.co.uk
Nortech Management Ltd design and supply remote site monitoring solutions and other specialist technology to electricity utilities, telecom network providers, the security industry and other blue chip companies with geographically spread networks and assets. www.nortechonline.co.uk