SSE pioneers smart-er UK grid network on Shetland isles

The NINES 'smart' power supply system was trialled in Shetland
The NINES ‘smart’ power supply system was trialled in Shetland

The UK electricity supply industry – which includes Scottish Power and Perth-based utility SSE as grid operators – have formally set out for the first time how the role of local electricity networks will change as the UK ‘smart’ energy grid becomes a reality.

A ‘smart’ grid will give British households, businesses and communities the ability to take advantage of a new range of energy technologies and services to take control of their energy and lower their costs – including renewable generation, energy storage and BPVs (battery-powered cars).

The Open Networks Project, led by the Energy Networks Association – and fully backed by Scotland’s Big Two – is a milestone in the process of re-defining how national energy networks will operate in the future in a new era of using smarter technology.

Innovation has already enabled close to £1bn of cost savings across GB that will be delivered between now and 2023, clearly demonstrating the economic potential of smarter networks.

An SSE spokesman explained: “We believe customer interests are best protected by transition from the traditional distribution network operator (DNO) model to a prominent distributed system operator (DSO) role.

“It is our view this transition will help meet the needs of a flexible and de-carbonised electricity system, whilst ensuring the network remains resilient and affordable.

“We’ve led the way in demonstrating the benefits of a distributed system operator transition through the Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) project in Shetland.

“The NINES project was the first time active network management was deployed at scale in the UK. The headline result was that NINES enabled a 200% increase in renewable energy alongside a significant reduction in diesel generation, which is traditionally used to meet fluctuations in supply and demand.”

Meanwhile, the National Grid company has launched a new consultation on the future of the “balancing services” market, as it seeks to meet the fast-evolving demands of an increasingly flexible and distributed low-carbon energy system.

Its “System Needs and Product Strategy” document provides information on its expectations for the balancing services market and how it can best facilitate the development of the sector so “all technology types can compete on a level playing field delivering the cheapest possible cost for consumers”.

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