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SP Energy Networks: World-first re-energising project is just the beginning

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As the UK moves towards cleaner, greener energy solutions, it’s vital that new options and ideas are explored to ensure the network is resilient enough to support this transition.

The UK Government has set the target of bringing the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country to net zero by 2050 while the Scottish Government is targeting net zero by 2045. This means there must be a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

At SP Energy Networks, our aim is to provide an energy network that can support the increased use of green technology.

A key aspect of this is being able to ensure that power can be rapidly restored in the highly unlikely event of a total or partial shutdown of the National Electricity Transmission System. The current approach to restoration relies on large power stations and fossil fuels like coal and gas to provide this backup, but new methods must now explore how distributed energy resources (DER) can help.

Thanks to a series of important innovation projects, we’re helping to develop pioneering green alternatives that have the potential to transform how power is restored to the network.

SP Energy Networks was involved in a global first when a recent trial used energy from ScottishPower’s 69MW Dersalloch onshore wind farm in South Ayrshire to re-energise part of the power grid. The project saw us work alongside ScottishPower Renewables as it deployed the latest technology at the wind farm and we used our expertise to use the power to restore part of our power grid. The successful project proved that wind power can restore ‘blacked-out’ sections of the transmission network.

Further to this, we’re proud to be involved in Distributed ReStart, a project which is being led by National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) in partnership with SP Energy Networks and TNEI, a specialist energy consultancy. This project is exploring how distributed energy resources can be used to implement a ‘bottom-up’ restoration strategy. The project was awarded £10.3 million of Network Innovation Competition (NIC) funding and is now at the stage of progressing several live network trials to see how the concept works in practice.

Last October we started the first of these trials at the Glenlee hydro power station in Dumfries and Galloway where, in collaboration with the owner Drax and our project partners NGESO and TNEI, we used its 11kV connected generator to simultaneously energise 50km of the 132kV transmission overhead line network, along with two grid transformers. More live network trials are planned for later this year.

Distributed ReStart represents a significant step change in how we re-energise the electricity transmission system in the event of a total or partial shutdown. The time to invest in futureproofing our electricity networks is now and I’m proud that SP Energy Networks is leading the way in developing innovative technologies to deliver a green and resilient grid system and help us achieve our net zero targets.

Scott Mathieson's photo

Scott Mathieson Director of Network Planning and Regulation at SP Energy Networks

Scott is director of Network Planning and Regulation at distributed network operator SP Energy Networks.


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