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National Grid frees up 1.5GW of network capacity with deployment of Smart Wires technology

Image: National Grid.

Image: National Grid.

Network bottlenecks limiting renewable generation are to be eased with the deployment of new technology able to free up 1.5GW of network capacity.

The SmartValve modular power flow control technology - provided by US-based Smart Wires – is being deployed by National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) at three substations across the north of England, Harker in Carlisle, Penwortham in Preston and Saltholme in Stockton-on-Tees near Middlesbrough.

As more renewable generation comes online, depending on the weather, power flows change and circuits can become unequally loaded, with some reaching maximum capacity while others are still below their limits.

The three substation sites were identified as needing a solution to solve these bottlenecks of renewable power, with the SmartValve technology able to instantly route power through the circuits which have available capacity, maximising the use of the existing network.

The deployment of this technology is therefore set to help support the UK's decarbonisation by allowing greater volumes of renewables to be efficiently transferred to customers.

Following the initial installations at the three sites, National Grid is looking to extend the capability at Harker and Penwortham in the autumn, which could mean freeing up an additional 500MW.

David Wright, chief engineer for National Grid, praised the project as a "world's first" for large scale use of the technology.

"I’m proud to see NGET leading the way and pioneering transformational and innovative engineering to achieve wide-scale decarbonization and overcome bottlenecks that are preventing maximum use of our networks," he added.

Smart Wires' technology has also been deployed as part of UK Power Network's Loadshare trial, which saw up to 95MW of additional network capacity freed on UKPN’s network.

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