PSC dovetails domain expertise and collaboration in support of WPD’s innovation projects
December 9, 2020

John Taylor

Innovation is at the heart of Western Power Distribution (WPD)’s business strategy and key to its commitment to a net-zero future. That’s why the electricity network operator is working with PSC and others on innovative solutions that will help deliver a smarter and more efficient energy system for the future.

Many of these projects are funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance (NIA). All aim to develop solutions that can be adopted as ‘business as usual’ practices to meet the challenges of building a more flexible, decarbonized network while continuing to provide excellent value for electricity customers. In fact, PSC is already supporting WPD on three projects funded by the NIA or the Network Innovation Competition (NIC).

NEAT project

We are working on a fourth project called NEAT (Network Event and Alarm Transparency), which is funded by Ofgem’s NIA and will run for almost two years at the cost of £500k. The project is designed to help Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) like WPD to manage an increasing number of new and unfamiliar alarms in their control rooms as new functions for real-time dynamic network management and optimization schemes are introduced. Significant analysis is needed to address and resolve these alarms, which increases the complexity of overall network management. The project’s goal is to create a robust tool for analyzing alarms and events, developing a better understanding of their root causes and interactions to enable them to be managed more efficiently and effectively.

NEAT collaboration

PSC has been working with Harmonic Analytics, a leading data science company based in New Zealand, to help develop a software tool that will analyze the relationship(s) between the alarms and other system events and provide insight into the issues raised by the alarms.

By supporting WPD with its innovation projects, PSC helps develop critical knowledge and expertise shared with other network operators, delivering potential environmental benefits, making electricity networks smarter, reducing costs to customers, and maintaining security across Great Britain.

Client-endorsed innovation

The project has been welcomed by Jenny Woodruff, Innovation and Low Carbon Network Engineer at WPD.

“Distribution Network Operators are taking on new roles to become Distribution System Operators. These new roles often require new software systems to support them which increases the number of alarms but also introduces new types of alarm that can be difficult to manage. NEAT will help us streamline the process to resolve these new alarms ensuring the optimal operation of our network.”

Dr. David Mills, PSC’s Team Lead for UK Power System Studies, is also delighted to see the project taking shape.

“PSC is working closely with the WPD innovation team on a range of projects. I’m pleased that we have been able to start a project to address the challenges that occur due to operating a more active distribution network. The future distribution network will be more active to allow decarbonization of the energy industry and this project is a great opportunity to ensure all the different technologies continue to operate reliably.  The collaboration between Harmonic, WPD and PSC brings leading experts together to address these challenges and allow the UK to continue on its path towards net-zero.”

Read our full NEAT project summary.

If you would like to talk about your next energy project, please contact PSC.