UK Power Networks has received approval by Ofgem to trial a world-first innovation scheme on its network.
The plan involves the Constellation project using powerful computers in a series of substations to free up capacity and assist in the facilitation of renewable energy generation.
The volume of distributed generation – energy no longer connected to the national transmission system but to regional distribution networks – is forecast to grow from 26GW in 2020 to 65GW in 2050. Much of this generation is renewable in the form of wind and solar farms.
UK Power Networks is adapting to increasingly complex power flows by becoming smarter so that it can safely release more capacity and enable more renewable energy to connect at lower cost.
Constellation 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.
The UK Power Networks solution aims to release 1.4GW of capacity and save consumers more than £750 million by 2050 if the project proves a success and is rolled out nationwide. It is also forecast to save more than 19 tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions by 2050.
Ian Cameron, head of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks said: “We are creating a platform that will enable this smart solution to be deployed throughout the country and enable more renewable energy to connect quickly and efficiently.
“We already have smart control rooms and grid edge devices such as smart electric vehicle chargers, and now having smart substations in the middle pulling it all together is a logical next step.”