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Electricity network restarted from renewables in successful SPEN trial

The trial comes as part of the Distributed ReStart project. Image: SPEN

The trial comes as part of the Distributed ReStart project. Image: SPEN

A trial as part of the second phase of the Distributed ReStart project has shown how a range of smaller energy sources can be used to restore power in the event of a total or partial system shutdown.

SP Energy Networks (SPEN) conducted the trial in Galloway, which saw it connect a hydro generator at Kendoon and power wind turbines across two small wind farms at Glenchamber and North Rhins to re-energise the network in an isolated test.

The test was delivered in collaboration with National Grid ESO, with coordination required between the National Grid ESO and SPEN control rooms, as well as coordination of the multiple operational resources and people in preparation for and during the live testing, the DNO said.

This paves the way for a “radically different approach” to system restoration, the distribution network operator (DNO) said, using renewables to help reduce costs and move towards net zero.

It differs from the current approach to restarting the electricity transmission system, with wide scale system recovery in the event of a total or partial shutdown of this system having only been possible by utilising large fossil fuel power stations before.

Scott Mathieson, network planning and regulation director at SP Energy Networks, said: “Using DERs and green energy to restore the energy system would increase the diversity of providers, helping to save millions of pounds in costs for customers thanks to a more competitive market.

"It can also save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions by negating the need for coal and gas power stations, therefore pushing us forward on decarbonisation plans as we strive to reach net zero emissions."

Launched in 2019, the Distributed ReStart project is a partnership between SP Energy Networks, National Grid ESO and energy consultancy TNEI.

In 2020, Current± spoke with National Grid ESO’s Duncan Burt about the project, while in a 2021 guest blog, SPEN's Mathieson wrote about how the project represents "a significant step change" in how the system is re-energised.

Two more live Distributed ReStart trials are planned for later this year.

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