For National Grid Smart Wires article 'Working smarter to get to net zero'

World’s first large-scale use of power flow technology on transmission network will unlock 1.5GW of electricity capacity

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) is using innovative and transformational technology to unlock 1.5GW of network capacity – enough renewable energy to power 1 million homes and supporting the UK’s net zero ambitions.

As power grids become more intelligent, digital and controllable, NGET is using SmartValveTM a cutting-edge modular power flow control technology, to drive this transition. With this work, NGET is leading the UK electricity sector and reinforcing its position as a global pioneer.

NGET is installing SmartValve on five circuits at three of its substation sites in the North of England, which makes 500MW of new network capacity available in each region. This technology will help to decarbonize the UK electricity grid by allowing greater volumes of renewable power to be efficiently transferred to customers.

As more renewable generation comes onto the network, depending on the weather, power flows change and circuits become unequally loaded, meaning some circuits reach maximum capacity while others are still well below their limits.

The sites, at Harker in Carlisle, Penwortham in Preston and Saltholme in Stockton-on-Tees near Middlesbrough, were identified as needing a solution to solve bottlenecks of renewable power. The state-of-the-art technology from US-based Smart Wires, intelligently and instantly routes power through the circuits which have available capacity, maximising use of the existing network.

Installing modular power flow controllers at these sites allows NGET to provide National Grid’s Electricity System Operator with the tools to quickly reduce the congestion that limits renewable generation, with minimal impact on communities and the environment, demonstrating NGET commitment to deliver clean and affordable energy for our customers.

Following these initial installations at the three sites, National Grid is looking to extend the capability at Harker and Penwortham in the Autumn. This could mean freeing up an additional 500MW of capacity, enough to power more than 300,000 homes.

David Wright, Chief Engineer for National Grid said: “Harnessing the potential of new innovative technologies to enhance benefits for customers and consumers is at the heart of everything we do. I’m proud to see NGET leading the way and pioneering transformational and innovative engineering to achieve wide-scale decarbonization and overcome bottlenecks that are preventing maximum use of our networks. I’m delighted to see Smart Wires intelligent technology installed on National Grid’s transmission network, making it a world’s first for large scale use - this will be key to unlocking extra capacity safely and quickly.”

Julian Leslie, Head of Networks at National Grid Electricity System Operator said: “Managing constraints on the transmission network is an important part of our work operating the electricity system so it’s great to see Smart Wires technology being utilized. Developments such as this, and the steps outlined in our 5-point congestion management plan, will reduce the impact of constraints, allowing us to harness the full potential of renewable generation and lower costs for the end consumer – all helping towards our ambition of being able to operate the system at zero carbon by 2025.”

Peter Wells, Smart Wires CEO said: “NGET has shown unparalleled global leadership in their whole-hearted embrace of innovative technology to enable rapid, affordable decarbonisation. With these projects, NGET have pioneered a new way to think about planning and operating the grid – leveraging flexible investments to deliver gigawatts of impact in incredibly short timeframes. Of the hundred utilities we work with around the globe, NGET are one of the most focused organisations when it comes to their commitment to deliver value for consumers. The team’s outstanding technical capability and collaborative approach was a critical enabler to the pace and scale of the impact these projects have achieved. Our vision at Smart Wires is a highly efficient grid that powers a cleaner planet, and we are so proud to stand alongside our NGET partners and celebrate this success.”

Simon Innis, Managing Director for Omexom UK added: “Omexom is delighted to have been selected to partner with both National Grid and Smart Wires to manage and install this innovative technology.  The strength of our team’s relationships was integral to ensure the success of the world’s first large scale implementation of power flow technology.”


Contact for media information only:

Helen Blake 
+44 7790 824788
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