Power Potential project

The Power Potential project, which is a world first, could save energy consumers over £400m by 2050 and generate up to an additional 4 GW in the South East region of the UK.  We have teamed up with UK Power Networks to launch this new initiative which aims to create a new reactive power market for distributed energy resources (DER) and generate additional capacity on the network.

Throughout Great Britain, distribution power networks have been experiencing increased levels of renewable generation such as wind and solar, etc. As this trend continues to increase, more coordination between the Great Britain (GB) System Operator and distribution network operators (DNOs) is needed. This will increase system flexibility by using more DER capabilities and provide network support at a distribution and transmission level.

The three-year study is based in the South East region of the UK, where the connection of distributed energy resources is growing rapidly. Given the region’s location there is also high interconnection with continental Europe with HVDC links of 2GW, increasing to 5GW with future projects.  

Click here to understand the Power Potential project in 2 minutes

Power Potential is a significant project not just for National Grid and UK Power Networks, but for many businesses actively involved in the UK renewable energy sector. It could potentially open up new markets and opportunities. At Foresight, we’re keen to participate in such a valuable trial and expect to be part of the future solution in the energy sector.

         Arnoud Klaren, Technical Director at the Foresight Group

Why Power Potential?

What is the challenge?

As renewables replace synchronous generation, there are challenges to the management of supply including:

  • high voltage in periods of low demand
  • low voltage under certain fault conditions 
  • thermal constraints during the outage season.

As a result, there are constraints on the numbers of low carbon technologies that can connect in the South East region of the UK as well as a high risk of operational issues in the network and a high cost of managing those issues.

What is our aim?

National Grid and UK Power Networks have a shared vision for a more open and participatory power network.

The objective of the project is to create a regional reactive power market for distributed energy resources (DER) connected to the distribution network to provide the following services to the Great Britain (GB) System Operator:

  •  dynamic voltage control form DER (Mvar for high and low voltage conditions)
  • active power support for constraint management and system balancing  

In order to provide voltage support in South East, increasing reactive compensation is needed. DER connected in the distribution network have the potential to provide reactive and active power services to the system.

Giving us access to resources connected in UK Power Network’s South East network will provide additional tools for managing voltage transmission constraints. It will also open up new revenue streams for distributed energy resources by opening up a new market for them.

How will we do this?

Power Potential is structured into the following key deliverables:

  • a commercial framework using market forces to create new services from distributed energy resources to National Grid via UK Power Networks
  • a platform known as Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS) to support technical and commercial optimisation and dispatch.     

The DERMS solution will work as follows:

  • gather commercial availability, capability and costs from each DER
  • run power flow assessments to calculate the possible availability of each service at the grid service point and present that information to us
  • instruct each DER to change their set–point as required and monitor their response on the day power is required by us.

What are the benefits?

If successful Power Potential could potentially save up to £412m for UK consumers by 2050. It could be introduced to 59 other transmission sites and produce an additional 3,720 MW of generation in the South East area by 2050.

Please click here to see more project details on Ofgem's website.

Requirements for participation

Who should participate?

The following generators/plants connected in the South East area of England are encouraged to participate in the Power Potential trial:

  • PV power plants;
  • Wind farms;
  • Batteries and storage sites; 
  • Synchronous generators; 
  • Aggregators; and/or
  • Other distributed energy resources (DER) not reflected in this list.

If you have any of the above generation connected in the South East, we’d like to hear from you. If you are outside of this scope, we would welcome your feedback on our design and invite you to keep abreast of the ongoing work in developing the reactive market via the National Grid website.


Before deciding to take part in the trial there are a number of points you may need to consider. They are:

  • What are the services to be provided through Power Potential?
  • How do I know if my plant is suitable?
  • Do I need to make any changes to my plant to take part?
  • What are the next steps?

The commercial framework

During 2018, we will design and test the technical and commercial design of the Power Potential project with trial participants. The trial will take place in 2019 and will only be open to distributed energy resources (DER) connected via UK Power Networks, at Canterbury, Sellindge, Bolney and Ninfield. Unfortunately, If your assets are outside of this area you will be unable to participate in the one year trial.

We'll be seeking feedback and ideas during the trial from the wider industry through our Regulatory Market Advisory Panel. 

The trial is investigating whether reactive power support from non-conventional sources are only effective if they are connected to the transmission system at 400/275 kV. If they are connected to the distribution system, their level of effectivness will be investigated. 

This work forms part of the deliverables of the Flexibility workstream, which is looking at how we improve and simplify balancing services. In 2017 we published a System Needs and Product Strategy document which sets out how we intend to review and simplify balancing services.

The document sets out how we intend to reassess the commercial valuation of reactive power and consider locational sensitivities. This will look at clearer signals of need, appropriate routes to market for potential providers and how we can access reactive power from generation when at low, or no active power output.

We would like to create a market that values reactive power in a transparent manner and aim to do this by the end of 2018/19. This design will begin following consultation and will also be informed by the results of the Power Potential project.

Events and news

It's award season!

The Power Potential project has been shortlisted for two industry awards this year.

We were shortlisted for the Best Use of New and Emerging Technology Award in the innovation category at the Real IT Awards. This award recognises delivery of clear pioneering and transformative technology, showcasing what IT has done to advance the potential of applications and/or technology so that they can be used to drive better efficiency and productivity as well as the outcomes and performance of an organisation. 

We were also shortlisted for the Smart Energy Awards at the 13th British Renewable Energy Awards. The awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of companies and individuals who have done something amazing in renewables and clean technology over the past year. 

Do you need more information on Power Potential project?

We regular hold dates for one-to-one meetings with distributed energy resources who might be interested in taking part in our project trial. If you would like to arrange an appointment with us, either to discuss participation, or the project more broadly, let us know by emailing us at [email protected] We look forward to speaking with you soon. 

Read more about the Power Potential in Network Magazine

Read more about the Power Potential project from Biljana Stojkovska, Project Manager at National Grid in Network Magazine. Find out how we intend to create a new regional power market in the South East region of the UK.

On 18 April, Biljana will be presented at the Future Networks Conference in Birmingham alongside Ali Reza Ahmadi from UK Power Networks, our project partner. Missed it? Drop us an email if you would like to see the presentation, or find out more.

Dame Fiona Woolf becomes the Chair for Regional Market Advisory Panel

We are delighted to welcome Dame Fiona Woolf as Chair of our Regional Market Advisory Panel. Dame Fiona is one of the UK’s most respected energy lawyers has become the chair of a new joint innovation project for National Grid and UK Power Networks. She began her role as chair of Power Potential on 22nd February.

Dame Fiona has worked across over 40 jurisdictions on electricity market implementation, regulation and power and transmission projects.

As chair of the Regional Market Advisory Panel, she will bring a wealth of knowledge and ideas to the group. The panel has been created to provide an opportunity for interested stakeholders, trial participants and industry experts to provide different perspectives and ideas to enhance the Power Potential project.

Fiona said, “As the first Chair of the newly formed Regional Market Advisory Panel for both National Grid and UK Power Networks, I appreciate the vital work being undertaken by the Power Potential project to overcome complex network issues with a world’s first 21st century solution. My ambition, as Chair, is to guide the electricity industry into opening up new markets and opportunities to give the network greater flexibility and at a cost savings that will benefit energy bill payer.”


Distribution Energy Resources (DER) webinar, 29 January 2018

We hosted a webinar on 29 January for DER participants who are interested in signing up for the demonstration trial which will take place in 2019. The trial will help us understand how a day ahead reactive power market would behave. It will also demonstrate that a range of DER are technically capable of providing dynamic voltage response.

In the webinar, we introduced two new documents; the Technical Characteristics Submission Spreadsheet and our Heads of Terms (HoT). We invite your comments on both. Deadline for feedback is 26 February 2018. You can find these documents in the document section on our website. For more information, download our webinar summary document from the website or contact the team directly.

Power Responsive Forum, 11 January 2018

On 11 January, the Power Potential team exhibited at the Power Responsive Forum in London. Couldn't join us. We have lots of opportunities to hear more about the project coming up. For more information, or to arrange a meeting with us, contact [email protected]

Distributed Energy Resources (DER) 1-2-1s

Power Potential has been meeting with interested parties across different technology types and business models including; renewable generation, battery storage, diesel, combined heat and power plants, asset owners and demand side aggregators. The sessions have helped us understand more about the capability of individual projects, provide further guidance on the technical and commercial arrangements for the project, and seek input to ensure the route to market, created by Power Potential, is accessible for a range of technologies.

Common themes we have identified:

  • The ease of forecasting accurately the volume that would be available, particularly for active power (MW) - depending on technology type, there were different preferences on how close to real-time availability should be declared.
  • Metering requirements for verification of service delivery - it's important to ensure metering costs aren't prohibitive to participation.
  • Interaction with other services or agreements - it's necessary to consider the impact of participation in Power Potential on existing Balancing Services contracts and PPAs.
  • The distinction between availability instructions and arming instructions for reactive power (Mvars) - depending on technology type and fuel source/cost, there were different views on whether availability instructions should lead to assets being armed, or whether this should occur at a later stage in the dispatch process. 

Thank you to those who took part in our sessions. We hope you found them as useful as we have. We welcome any follow-up session to continue the discussions. Alternatively, if you would like to arrange a similar discussion for your organisation or project, you can contact the Power Potential team.

Swissgrid and Axpo Power AG - sharing learning

The Power Potential team had a great opportunity to visit Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission grid operator and Axpo Power AG, a Distribution System Operator (DSO) in Switzerland. Both meetings have given us learning we can implement into our own project. 

The meeting with Swissgrid gave us a great opportunity to understand how they manage active voltage control in their network. Swissgrid's power system has no, or a very small amount of non-synchronous generation, the biggest difference from our system. We also learned that Swissgrid established a fixed price that is paid to the DSO at the interface between the two systems. They also implement a penalty charge to any DSO which operates outside the defined reactive envelope.

Meeting Axpo Power AG was equally beneficial. The DSO is responsible for dispatching reactive power from the Distribution Energy Resources (DER) in order to meet the envelope at the interface between distribution and transmission. They showed us how their power plants meet the requirements for active voltage control. Of particular interest for us was a control algorithm, their equivalent of the Power Potential DERM system, which they are developing in-house. The control algorithm does not account for post-fault dynamic control, however--a fundamental difference from the Power Potential project.

Both visits provided useful learning we can implement into our project. 

Low Carbon Networks and Innovation (LCNI) Conference 2017

Power Potential showcased at the Low Carbon Networks and Innovation Conference on 6 and 7 December. Missed it? You can download a copy of the presentation in the documents section of our webpages, or register your interest in the project at: [email protected]

Related documents

Technical solution

In order to enable Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) to provide new services to the electricity transmission system, a management platform is currently being developed that will facilitate the communication between DERs connected to UK Power Networks and National Grid.

Find out more