Collaborators sought for £6m network innovation competition bid

Electricity pylonsBy DARA BUTTERFIELD

A UK electricity distribution network operator (DNO) is seeking potential vendors and partners for a Network Innovation Competition (NIC) bid that is scheduled for submission to Ofgem imminently. If successful, the project will run from 2016 to 2019 at a total value of around £6 million.

The electricity NIC is an annual funding competition run by energy industry regulator, Ofgem, whereby electricity transmission companies compete for funding for the best innovation projects. Up to £27m per annum is made available for projects that can help the networks balance the priorities of security of supply, cost and environmental sustainability.

Innovation scout, the Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), has a DNO industry partner that is currently seeking collaborators who are interested in joining a project that will trial different cooling methods on secondary substation assets such as transformers and cabling. Martin Queen, Innovation Engineer, EIC, said:

“The DNO behind this call owns 34,000 transformers and 44,000km of cabling, and many of these may need to be replaced over the next eight years due to load increases.

“If novel methods of cooling these assets can be identified, this will eliminate the need to replace them and ultimately, generate value for energy consumers.”

Changing patterns in demand and the growth in distributed generation means that DNO assets at a local level are coming under increasing strain. The increased current flowing through the transformer and low voltage cabling raises operating temperatures, limiting their performance and hampering the future connection of demand, or generation, in the area.

Cooling these assets appropriately would improve their efficiency and avoid replacement with higher rated devices, resulting in savings for energy consumers.

There are many different methods that can be used to cool electrical assets. This project will aim to investigate as many of these as possible; active and passive cooling solutions for transformers and LV cables are of particular interest.

The suggested cooling methods must be cost effective due to the relatively low value (circa £27,500) of replacing these assets with larger equivalents. Proposed solutions should also take into account any restrictions associated with the location of such assets.

The deadline for submitting bids to the Energy Innovation Centre is 5 June 2015.


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