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Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC)

As new generation technologies come online, such as solar and wind, we face challenges in maintaining the 50 Hz frequency stability on the transmission system which we are required to keep. Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC) is a three-year project we are leading, which is designed to find a resolution to this challenge.

Traditional, large rotating power generators provide lots of inertia (the resistance of an object to any change in motion) which acts a natural aid in maintaining frequency stability. Renewable energy technologies introduce challenges to system stability as they do not provide inertia, meaning they cannot help maintain system frequency. The increased risk of rapid changes to frequency could lead to faults on the electricity network. As a result, we'll require a greater volume and speed of frequency response to keep the system stable.

With industry and academic partners, we are trialling an innovative wide-area monitoring and control system (MCS). The new system will obtain frequency data at a regional level. Being able to do this at a regional level will provide our control room operators with the accurate, real-time information they need to react much faster to changes to the grid. This will ensure the necessary actions are taken to re-balance the system and allow more informed network decisions, such as determining the most cost-effective mix of frequency response across the transmission network.

What we are doing

Designing a future of fast frequency response

Working with expert external partners, we are trialling an innovative monitoring and control system (MCS). The system will help control frequency in the transmission system. This is how we measure the balance between electrical power generated and consumed and is essential to running a safe and reliable network.

The innovative system will obtain accurate frequency data at a regional level, calculate the required rate and volume of very fast response, then enable the initiation of the required response. The system will then be used to demonstrate the viability of getting rapid response from new renewable technologies, such as wind and solar, and the coordination of fast response across all technologies. This data will be used to develop new balancing services, additional response capability and the most cost-effective mix of responses across the grid, further enhancing our effective management of system frequency.

Why EFCC?

Traditional gas and coal power stations are required when action is needed to maintain frequency. These power stations provide a natural aid to achieving frequency stability because they provide inertia. As the energy landscape changes, relying on traditional plants to ensure frequency stability will become increasingly expensive and have a negative effect on the UK's environmental targets. 

Renewable technologies, such as wind turbines or solar PV, don't provide natural inertia. As the amount of generation from newer technologies increases, there will be a corresponding decrease in the level of system inertia. This is known to increase the risk of rapid changes to frequency, which can affect the whole power system, causing severe faults or loss of load and generation, in worst case scenarios.

The project offers a new approach to dealing with frequency incidents. We'll trial a method of monitoring and instructing response from a range of resources including:

  • Solar PV power plants;
  • Energy storage;
  • Wind power;
  • Thermal generation; and
  • Demand Side Response (DSR)

    The methods being trialled will enable us to develop new balancing services and additional response capability in the grid.  

    Our project partners

    We are running the project in partnership with energy experts and academia. All of our partners have made a significant financial contribution to the project and have provided support in the following ways:

    Belectric

    Solar power experts Belectric will provide response from their PV power plants and storage facilities. They'll contribute knowledge and practical solutions to realise the project's goals concerning battery- and PV-based frequency regulation, virtual inertia, and collaboration of different response providers.

    Centrica

    Multinational utility business Centrica will play a dual role in the project, providing response from both large-scale generation (Langage and South Humber Bank combined cycle gas turbines) and wind farms (Lincs and Lynn or Inner Dowsing).

    Flexitricity

    Leaders in demand-side management, Flexitricity are recruiting customers from industrial and commercial sectors for a demand side response (DSR) trial. The company will also deploy its proprietary control and communication solutions, providing local interface points for the MCS on customers' sites, and will monitor and operate the DSR trial.

    Orsted and Siemens

    Orsted and Siemens are concentrating on wind turbine trials to demonstrate the capability of a wind farm to provide fast, initiated frequency response and the associated costs of doing so. 

    GE Grid Solutions

    GE Grid Solutions have developed the monitoring and control system for the project. The company has a strategic interest in the field of wide area measurement and control.

    University of Manchester and the University of Strathclyde

    Both institutions are providing academic support, testing facilities, system studies and expert knowledge. A big focus for both Strathclyde and Manchester will be on the results validation and sharing learning from the project.

    News and events

    Shortlisted at the Scottish Green Energy Awards!

    We were delighted to have been shortlisted in the Best Innovation category at the Scottish Green Energy Awards 2017. The awards recognised and celebrated innovations, people, and organisations that have ensured the success of Scotland's renewable energy sector during challenging times.

    Low Carbon Networks and Innovation (LCNI) Conference 2017

    The EFCC project exhibited at the Low Carbon Networks and Innovation Conference on 6 and 7 December. Lilian Macleod, Project Manager, also presented. Attendees were able to play our two interactive games, courtesy of project partners University of Strathclyde and The University of Manchester. As the project is due to finish in March 2018, this will be our last exhibition at the conference.  You can find out more about the conference here

    The EFCC Project Dissemination Event March 2018

    As the project will be concluding in March, we will be hosting our final dissemination event at Cheltenham Racecourse on 27 and 28 March. Join us as we tell the story of EFCC from beginning to end, with presentations from each of our project partners, results from the trials, find out about the commercial aspect from our commercial team, and lots of fun all round. If you would like to come along, please press contact us and include your details. More on the agenda to follow.

    New Monitoring and Control System (MCS) imagery

    We have developed a suite of images to help explain the MCS system. If you would like to receive these or understand more, please contact the team. We'd be happy to speak more about the system and share more about the EFCC project with you.

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