Through our network trials we identified a path to progressively smarten networks over time, as the low carbon future unfolds. The route map we produced will guide the development of smart grid technology and systems to 2050. There are no fixed timescales for this journey; our customers needs will drive the pace.

In this project, we deployed a state-of-the-art smart grid control system and integrated it into our existing control platform, giving our Control Engineers visibility deeper into the network than ever before. Through CLNR we have demonstrated that there is no need to fund a vast new network infrastructure if we invest little by little – a beneficial smart grid approach that allows DNOs deploying our recommendations to travel the smart/smarter/smartest path – from simple, local solutions to complex wide-area control solutions – without the risk of stranded assets.

We found that simple solutions will fix simple problems and complex solutions suit complex problems: the smartest option is to create the upgrade path. We can release capacity by better off-line planning, as well as through better on-line control systems: although both need appropriate information on customers and networks. Fixing thermal problems is the best place to start as this often fixes voltage problems.

We found that we can release approx. 10% firm headroom from a bespoke ratings study, and the same again from a real power response (e.g. DSR), if we can find service providers in the right location at the right price. This needs basic active network management. We can release more non-firm headroom with basic active network management if customers are willing to be turned off, and even more non-firm headroom with RTTR. After that, we need to return to conventional reinforcement. If there is still a voltage problem, the starting point is to use the load-drop compensation feature on the existing relays to counteract any voltage rise from generation.

If customers’ behaviour is too diverse to manage effectively from a single voltage control device, adding another can offer a solution, using either on-load tap-changers at secondary distribution substation transformers on urban systems or HV regulators on rural systems. Where load-drop compensation cannot effectively coordinate these devices, or to control for thermal and voltage issues, a more sophisticated area controller is needed.

Further Reading on developing a smarter powergrid