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Innovating for Net Zero: New solutions to connect more renewables

02 February 2021

Dan Randles, Head of Network Innovation at Electricity North West, writes about a new £9.7mm innovation project – Quest – that could help free up network capacity for more than 2GW clean technologies and renewables and save over £250m.


Quest is a new scheme designed by Electricity North West to find a green way of managing the peaks and troughs of power supply caused by surges in demand and the transition towards more variable, renewable forms of electricity generation.

Now the company, which operates the electricity network across the North West, has been awarded £7.95 million by energy regulator Ofgem to support a trial of the scheme in addition to almost £2m in funding from project partners.

The project works by automatically monitoring and intelligently managing the voltage levels of the electricity network during times of peak demand or low supply, without compromising those parts that are sensitive to fluctuations, such as some advanced manufacturing and other industrial customers.

The money will allow Electricity North West to further develop the design of the system, before implementing the technology required and trialling the scheme, whilst engaging with customers to secure their feedback.

To help meet its decarbonisation targets, the Government is encouraging customers to take up more and more low carbon alternatives to heat their homes and power their cars. This is resulting in additional demand on the network, requiring us to develop advanced voltage management techniques which will help ensure customers get the power they need.

The funding ENW have been awarded is crucial for allowing trials of a highly innovative system to coordinate existing technology on the network.

Through optimisation, QUEST will boost the benefits currently available and enable people and businesses in the North West to embrace low carbon technologies helping to cut emissions and support the transition to net zero.

The award was made as part of Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, which was set up to encourage innovation in the energy sector and support the transition to a net zero carbon emissions economy.

Electricity North West is currently investing £63.5 million in the region’s electricity network as part of its Leading the North West to Zero Carbon plan to boost capacity ahead of the transition to green technologies such as electric vehicles and heating.

This compliments work which is already underway on key strategic projects including the South Manchester Enterprise Zone near Manchester Airport. Others, such as around the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone and other key parts of the region’s infrastructure, are due to commence in the coming months.

About us

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the energy networks. Our members include every major electricity network operator in the UK. The electricity networks are at the heart of the energy transition. They directly employ more than 26,000 people in the UK, including 1,500 apprentices. They are spending and investing £33bn in our electricity grids over the coming years, to ensure safe, reliable and secure energy supplies for the millions of homes and businesses reliant on power every day.

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