National Grid Electricity Distribution is leading a project aiming to improve decision making on energy infrastructure in the West Midlands.
Project PRIDE, which stands for Planning Regional Infrastructure in a Digital Environment, consists of consortium partners Advanced Infrastructure and the West Midlands Combined Authority and will look to bring together stakeholders and relevant datasets in a virtual environment to support decision making when considering energy infrastructure.
It’s objective, as defined by the organisations involved in the project, is to demonstrate the role of the Regional System Planner – an area being explored by energy regulator Ofgem to “ensure there is accountability for regional energy system planning”.
The project will investigate how a digital twin, a digital model of a real system, which incorporates regional infrastructure for electricity, gas, heat, transport, water and telecoms, can enable various parties involved in a Regional System Planner to make more informed decisions when planning the investment required.
Doing so could grant a major boost to the decarbonisation of the UK energy sector. It could also support the transformation of how the energy system is both planned and operated at a local level.
The project is being delivered as part of Ofgem’s £450 million Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) aiming to support network innovation that will contribute to achieving net zero “rapidly and at the lowest cost”, the organisations said.
“We are thrilled that all our project applications were approved as this is our first experience of SIF. We are also excited to be working with new project partners which often brings new insights,” said Jenny Woodruff, innovation team manager at National Grid Electricity Distribution.
“The discovery phase will allow us to test key assumptions and carry out the early work necessary to firm up our plans for the alpha and beta SIF phases where we can develop the initial ideas into prototypes and full-scale trials.”
For Project PRIDE, Advanced Infrastructure will be supporting a feasibility study by exploring how digital tools such as a Local Area Energy Planning tool (LAEP+) can help organisations develop their net zero plans.
Christopher Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Advanced Infrastructure, commented: “We’re delighted National Grid Electricity Distribution’s SIF application was given the green light and we are delighted to now be working together with our project partners on a shared journey to ultimately accelerate the reduction of fuel and energy costs in the West Midlands area.
“Project PRIDE has the ability to provide critical insight and research to help inform the future development of a net zero energy system whilst at the same time delivering significant benefits to consumers.”