Open Networks monthly blog: Delivering on our Power Potential

As part of the ENA’s Open Networks project, Ali Reza Ahmadi, Lead Power Systems Engineer at UK Power Networks and Biljana Stojkovska, Power Potential Project Lead at National Grid explain how Power Potential is a world-first trial to create a new market for distributed energy resources.

The energy network is going through a historic change, moving away from the traditional model of large-scale, carbon-intensive generation towards a much more complex system of distributed energy resources connected to the energy networks.

Power Potential is a flagship innovation project run in partnership with National Grid and UK Power Networks that’s looking to answer the question of how we can absorb large quantities of distributed energy – mostly renewable – onto the energy network and deliver the decarbonisation of energy. We aim to deliver cheaper, faster connections for renewable energy providers to help get more low carbon energy onto the network.

If successful, it will transform the regional power market by opening up a new platform for distributed energy resources connected to UK Power Networks to provide real and reactive power services to National Grid, with the aim that it will eventually be rolled out to other network operators. The Power Potential Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) calculates the optimum Distributed Energy Resource (DER) production dispatch that satisfies the dynamic voltage and active power services request from National Grid at the lowest cost. It will also manage other conflict of services such as Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR), Frequency Response and Reserve Services and avoid dispatching services behind Active Network Management schemes prior to resolving distribution constraints. This project will significantly enhance Transmission and Distribution systems coordination and control,  open up new revenue streams, reduce constraints on renewable energy providers while giving National Grid additional tools to manage transmission system constraints -ultimately saving our customers money.

We’re also creating a regional market for reactive powers from DER and we are enhancing the existing active power market, meaning that generators who are connected to the distribution network can benefit from an additional revenue stream by selling services to National Grid. If it’s a success, it will mean less curtailment for renewable energy generators, giving National Grid an additional tool to manage thermal and voltage transmission constraints.

For UK Power Networks, there are some constraints across its three licence areas due to the rapid expansion in the volume of distributed generation. Power Potential aims to unlock some of that congestion, delivering 3.7 GW of additional capacity by 2050. Power Potential will establish an impressive control system to dispatch the flexibility required to allow distributed energy resources to contribute to constrained markets and ensure the system remains operable. It will also develop commercial arrangements for flexibility to allow the appropriate level of participation without undue burden of infrequent participants. These are all significant steps towards a whole system strategy in United Kingdom.

Its findings will form a crucial part of the foundation for the move from Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to Distribution System Operator (DSO) by building the Systems Operator capabilities in the distribution network. This industrial trial will also prove the concept of the whole system operation of the network. By co-ordinating and working together, UK Power Networks and National Grid are delivering real, tangible benefits to our customers, saving them money by deferring or avoiding the need for reinforcement.

It’s been crucial to the project team to get industry involvement from the start. We’ve been talking and listening, to industry to get a broad sense of what is needed. The reaction so far has been highly positive, with DERs welcoming the additional revenue streams Power Potential will provide. We’ve also hosted a series of webinars to bring the wider industry up to speed with the project and our work so far. You can read the highlights of these webinars here.  

The next year is going to be one of building the platform and rigorously testing every aspect of it, with the intention that in 2019 we’ll be ready to go live with our first trials of the regional real and reactive power markets.

The three year project will result in the creation new reactive regional power market from DER which will be the first of its kind in the world and the project will enhance active power market. Power Potential could eventually be introduced to 59 other transmission sites and potentially save up to £412m for UK consumers by 2050

To find out more about Power Potential visit our website here.



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