National Grid ESO has awarded eight contracts for Electricity System Restoration Services, as part of the system operator's new approach to Black Start services.
The contracts – two of which are new – cover the northern regions, including the north west, north east and Scotland, and have a total value of £53.8 million.
Electricity System Restoration Service is the system operator's strategy for restarting the electricity system in the event of a total blackout. While Britain has never had a nationwide power cut, this service would use auxiliary sources of generation to kickstart larger ones to create ‘islands’ of power that then connect together on the main transition network and restore the grid in such an event.
The tender was launched in August 2019, and the eight successful contracts will run instead of bilateral agreements, providing services from May 2022 for three years. It follows the operator announcing six contracts had been won for system restoration in the south west and Midlands, with a combined value of £84 million from July 2022 in November 2020.
Tendering for Electricity System Restoration Services forms part of a new approach from National Grid ESO to what was previously known as Black Start. As the nature of the electricity system continues to develop, with a record amount of renewables playing into the mix, there are fewer large scale power plants and more distributed energy resources (DER).
By launching competitive tenders, the operator hopes to broaden the number of generators able to play into the services and reduce its dependence on traditional plants.
David Wildash, market services senior manager at National Grid ESO, highlighted that the control engineers have never had to use the national Electricity System Restoration Service procedures, but cited them as a "hugely important backup plan".
“It’s really exciting to announce the latest results from this competitive tender round. These new agreements will widen the pool of generators who can help provide the service and offer cost efficiencies too.”
Alongside the new tenders, National Grid ESO is running the Distributed Re-start project, a world first initiative looking at using DER to restore power to the network. The results of this project are due in March 2022.
The operator is also working with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to develop an industry wider restoration standard that would set a minimum restoration capacity for all zones in Britain.
Current± recently took a look at whether a storm, like that seen in Texas in February, could lead to a blackout in the UK, and how the grid would respond.