Power networks and flexibility to accommodate changing usage patterns
March 15, 2021

Ann Burns

As the UK focuses on achieving net-zero by 2050, electricity generation and usage continues to change.  The growing use of renewable generation along with the electrification of heat and transport requires more power to be carried by the distribution networks.

Historically, this would have resulted in new circuits and transformers being added to the system. Instead, there are a number of new approaches being applied and PSC has been working with the industry globally on solutions to these challenges.  PSC’s Dr. David Mills recently gave a presentation to the IET West Midlands Power Group to present findings from two recent projects delivered in collaboration with WPD under the Ofgem Network Innovation Allowance. What follows is a brief written recap of his presentation. The slides can be viewed here.

PSC’s work with WPD’s Electricity Flexibility and Forecasting System (EFFS) project is aimed at developing a power system analysis tool that allows for optimization and selection of available flexible services to resolve system constraints. This tool looks into the system requirements taking into consideration forecast demand, planned network outages, available flexible services and the most efficient use of these services to resolve constraints. These services can take the form of any generation or load able to actively increase or reduce its active power output.

Following on from this, PSC has also been looking into alternatives to flexibility in terms of simply increasing and reducing active power.  PSC has demonstrated that the reactive power import and export from customers can be optimized to resolve constraints, reduce system losses and increase the capacity available for new loads such as Electric Vehicle charging. In this webinar, Dr. Mills presented findings from this initial trial (Virtual Statcom) and plans to be taken further to investigate the potential for other services – such as large Electric Vehicle charging stations – and how this could alter their power factor as part of a market system to increase capacity on the distribution networks.

Dr. David Mills, PSC’s Power System Studies UK Team Lead said, “It has been great working closely with distribution and transmission networks in the UK to identify innovative ways to resolve their challenges by leveraging on PSC’s global experience. This presentation was a short summary of some of our recent experiences and with more than 250 attendees generated a lot of interest.  I particularly enjoyed the interesting questions and discussion that took place following the presentation and the continued interest in the evolution of the power system.

Details of PSC’s recent innovations projects in the UK can be found here.

We’re actively involved in a number of innovation projects and always interested in discussing the findings of these projects further.  Please contact us to find out more.

For anyone that was unable to make the IET presentation, a full recording will be uploaded to the IET West Midlands Power Group YouTube channel.