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Surging wind, interconnectors and distributed demand leading to capacity deficits, National Grid warns

Image: National Grid.

Image: National Grid.

New wind generation, interconnectors and surging EV uptake will leave the transmission system having to tackle capacity deficits over the next decade, according to the electricity system operator (ESO) function of National Grid.

Yesterday the ESO published this year’s Ten Year Statement, an annual document which contains a frank assessment of potential issues and solutions that National Grid has identified to occur within the next decade.

This year’s edition has identified a number of potential choke points in the country’s transmission system, but also highlighted how National Grid is eager to identify a “broader range” of solutions to meet those needs.

Specifically, National Grid has indicated that the broader energy transition is impacting power flows on the transmission system. There is now a higher north-to-south power flow in Scotland, and in England from the north to the midlands and the south, as wind generation is directed towards areas of high demand.

Furthermore, interconnectors in the pipeline – specifically those with continental Europe – and the need to connect those to the grid is adding to the potential stresses the ESO has identified.

Surging wind generation in Scotland is expected to double the north-to-south power flow requirement in the country within the next decade, while around 6GW of low carbon generation and interconnector capacity is expected in the north of England over the same time frame.

To complicate matters further, National Grid is expecting as much as 9GW of offshore wind capacity to come on stream off the coast of East Anglia, coupled with interconnection capacity increasing in the same region.

At the same time the uptick in deployment of electric vehicles, battery storage and heat pumps – technologies crucial to the energy transition – are making National Grid’s forecasting of transmission system requirements “increasingly complex”. Whereas in the past system requirements were principally being driven by winter peak demand, they are now being shaped by a far broader range of requirements which, in turn, is forcing National Grid to look into other areas for potential solutions.

While this is nothing particularly new for the industry to ponder, all eyes will now fall on National Grid’s forthcoming Networks Options Assessment (NOA), which highlights and analyses potential options for development and reinforcement works.

Currently earmarked for January 2019, National Grid has said that the forthcoming NOA assesses around 100 potential options for transmission system reinforcements.

In his opening foreword Julian Leslie, head of networks at National Grid’s ESO function, said that the firm was looking to encourage and assess a “broader range of solutions to meet transmission needs”.

“This range of solutions ranges from smart grid management systems to Distribution Network Operator (DNO) assets that provide transmission support and market solutions. This will help improve our investment recommendations for the benefit of customers and consumers,” he wrote.


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