In the case of Western Power Distribution (WPD) and Wales & West Utilities’ (WWUs’) “EPIC” innovation project, the name is not only an acronym – it stands for Energy Planning Integrated with Councils – it’s also an apt adjective.
What’s in a name?
EPIC is a development project that kicked off earlier this year and will span the better part of two years. Funded by the Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance (NIA), EPIC will first create a new standardized process to ask various local authorities (these local authorities are the “C” of EPIC) about their expected future energy requirements for electricity and gas. The project will then use this data to develop its planning scenarios, noting the associated impact on load profiles and investment requirements at different points on the electricity network. Consideration of sensitivities and cost-benefit analysis will provide insights to benefit the networks and regional stakeholders.
Why is EPIC innovative?
The way UK electricity and gas distribution planning (known as DFES, Distribution Future Energy Scenarios) currently works is based largely on national scenarios. This doesn’t always leave room to incorporate local, longer-term strategic plans, which can result in different expectations of future energy requirements between local authorities and the utilities.
For example, the local authority may have ambitious plans to decarbonize transportation and heating as part of a large development planned within their region through the use of electricity or decarbonized gas. This would introduce a very localized requirement for increased electricity or gas supply that will impact the development of the local distribution networks. There are several different options and scenarios that will need to be considered as part of this development, some of which may not be captured as part of the DFES or at the appropriate granularity.
EPIC aims to involve local authoritys’ development and decarbonization plans as input into its network development plans and identify network constraint solutions. This coordinated approach to energy network distribution planning is innovative because it’s taking an idea – integrating local electricity expectations – and making it a standardized part of both gas and electricity network planning assumptions at a very detailed level. It’s also giving increased information to local stakeholders on which to base their development plans.
New protocols for sharing data will be developed along the way to ensure that the work is repeatable, while the project will also create an automated approach to HV network analysis.
What’s PSC got to do with it?
Because of our global experience working with transmission and distribution networks to support their power system analysis, particularly our significant experience in network planning, the project partners have chosen PSC’s specialized UK team to work with. PSC brings experience in power system analysis, study automation and working across a range of projects looking to address the challenges facing the networks to meet forecast energy demands and uptake of low-carbon technologies in a new way.
PSC will be working closely with WPD and all the project partners to integrate the forecast development and energy requirements into the WPD HV network (11 kV) analysis. PSC will be developing the input requirements and tools necessary to automate the HV network analysis and identify potential reinforcement pathways to align with the local network authority development plans and the DFES planning scenarios.
Collaborative approach for the win
The overall EPIC project will enable a coordinated multi-vector approach for local authority development, electricity, and gas network requirements. This collaborative approach will ensure that network reinforcement plans are developed in a way that provides long-term value to consumers whilst supporting and accelerating the uptake of low-carbon technologies and renewable generation.
That’s a win-win in our book.
Access all the WPD project updates here.
 EPIC Project Partners include: Western Power Distribution, EA Technology, Regen, West of England Combined Authority and Wales & West Utilities