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UKPN begins ‘strategic, smart, specific’ tech rollout to enable more renewables

Image: UKPN.

Image: UKPN.

Network operator UK Power Networks (UKPN) is rolling out new ‘load blinding relays’ to unlock capacity for new connections in a £1 million project.

The devices will be installed on 80 transformers across 35 sites in Kent, Surrey and Sussex to release 469 Mega Volt Amperes (MVA).

By installing the new protection relays, more renewable capacity will be able to be connected to the grid without traditional, costly upgrades. For example, the increased capacity would allow for the installation of a rooftop solar panel on 127,445 houses.

Protection devices are traditionally used to switch off parts of an electricity network if a fault occurs. These smart protection devices can also monitor the network though, and tell if power flows are related to a problem on the network or not.

As such, UKPN can release more capacity by allowing more power through without risking the grid security.

Director of asset management at UKPN, Barry Hatton, said they were excited about this £932,000 project, as it shows “how far we can go if we think a bit differently and re-imagine what’s possible on our network".

“Strategic, smart, specific investment like this, is exactly how we plan to help enable net zero by 2050.”

UKPN specifically chose the south east to rollout the devices – which will take place from now until 2024 – because of the large concentration of solar and wind farms in the area. Across its network, there is already more than 7GW of renewables installed, with this number expected to double by 2030.

The news follows the network launching a new digital portal in March, designed to help installers connect clean technologies to homes and businesses including renewables such as rooftop solar PV.

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