Northern Lights: Leading the low carbon transition with Northern Powergrid's £83m smart grid programme

As DNO colleagues across the county ready their systems for sweeping changes brought about by the rapid growth of electric vehicles, domestic generation and renewable power, Patrick Erwin, Policy and Markets Director at Northern Powergrid, takes a moment to share more details about the £83m Smart Grid Enablers programme his team announced in January.

We are facing many unknowns in our energy future. We know what the rapidly emerging technologies are today, but like any new technology we don’t yet know how our customers will bring them into use. We did not foresee the advent of the mobile phone that 15 years down the line it would take more photographs than make phone calls.

A key objective for many of us in this industry is to lay down a strong foundation that can be as responsive to change and as future proof as possible

For Northern Powergrid, a fundamental component of that foundation is the Smart Grid Enablers project. It is the UK’s most comprehensive network upgrade programme and is the most radical change to our own network since the 1970s.

It is creating the backbone of a smart grid, supporting the North’s ambitions to put low-carbon technology at the centre of its economy, and enabling solutions that could save up to £500 million by 2031. Our teams work hard to deliver power to 3.9 million homes and businesses in the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire and from now until 2023 we are transforming their ability to monitor, control and communicate with more than 8,000 substations on our patch.

This will underpin our transition into a Distribution System Operator (DSO), providing a platform to roll out smart, cost-effective solutions to actively manage a network with complex power flows that are hard to predict.

By enabling rapid take-up of low-carbon technologies, Smart Grid Enablers will also support the ambitions of the Northern Energy Taskforce, which has set out proposals for the North to lead the UK’s low-carbon transition and create a regional economy that could be worth £15 billion a year and support 100,000 jobs by 2050.

Ultimately, our Smart Grid Enablers programme is putting our region at the forefront of the low-carbon revolution. It will make us ready to support rapid growth of electric vehicles, heat pumps and solar power in the next decade, while maintaining a reliable system and keeping costs as low as possible for every one of our customers – no matter how they use energy in the future.

Read more on this programme here.

We are hosting a number of events in the coming months to help us shape future plans as we improve our network for every customer. As part of this, I’ll be leading a Roundtable event in York on the 23rd March 2018 to explore how we can best support the environment and our customers during a power cut. I’d love you to join us and share your views. You can sign up here.

Future roundtables events include:

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