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Britain’s Electricity System Operator Introduces Enhanced Frequency Response Tool to Improve Power Grid Management

January 05, 2020 by Kelcie Moseley

The National Grid Electricity System Operator’s (ESO) suite of services for managing the flow of energy around the electrical grid will expand in 2020 with the launch of a new Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) suite, developed through two years of consultation with industry leaders.

New Product a ‘Step Up’ in Capability

The new EFR tool, termed “dynamic containment,” will be a faster-acting mechanism that expands upon existing EFR technology. EFR is a dynamic service that changes the active power proportionally in response to system frequency fluctuations, aiming to maintain system frequency closer to 50Hz. The ESO is required to keep its frequency within 1 percent of 50Hz. 

The new product, which will launch early next year, will be a “step-up” in capability from the EFR, and will widen the range of possible providers in the future, allowing high-frequency and low-frequency responses. 

Initially, the product will only be open to battery providers. The dynamic tool will be able to draw on a wider and more diverse range of technologies and generation providers when it is fully developed and will be capable of responding within one second to frequency deviations.

In early December, ESO head of electricity market change delivery Colin Murphy said, “From this week, we’ll be accelerating the conversations we’re having with providers we hope will engage with the new products and services set out in our roadmap, and we’ll continue working with participants in the auction trial to improve our understanding of how procurement of services closer to real-time can reap benefits for system operation, the market and energy consumers in Great Britain.”


National Grid Great Britain logo.

National Grid ESO's logo. Great Britain's primary electricity system operator. Image Credit: National Grid ESO.


Enhanced Tool Developed with Zero Carbon in Mind

The tool was developed amid an increasing emphasis from the ESO on operating a system with more “non-synchronous renewable energy generation,” or less inertia, meaning the measure of how quickly frequency can change when a system imbalance is present. This is also part of the ESO’s Response and Reserve Roadmap, which aims to operate the grid with zero carbon by 2025. 

Ro Quinn, head of national control at ESO, said in a press release, “As we move to a system with a more diverse energy mix, dynamic containment will be crucial to help us meet future challenges – particularly when it comes to fast frequency response and the task of balancing the system in real-time.” 

Following the launch of dynamic containment in its new frequency response suite, ESO said it will also introduce dynamic regulation and moderation products, which are designed to respond when the frequency is close to 50Hz, and rapid response to sudden frequency imbalances in intermittent generation, such as gusting winds.


Working Toward a Sustainable Future

The dynamic containment tool will draw on a wide, diverse range of technology and generation providers, with the capability of responding to frequency deviations within one second. The tool’s development is part of a host of efforts made by the National Grid and other governments to reduce carbon footprints and work toward environmental sustainability.

The National Grid is also investing billions per year in infrastructure and interconnectors to reach a zero carbon status by 2025, as well as importing electricity from more zero carbon sources. The Grid is also partnering with other UK governments, such as Norway’s power grid operator Statnett, to connect sustainable energy sources.

In 2021, the two entities will complete construction on an interconnector laid between Blyth in Northumberland and the Blasjo reservoir in Norway, where northern Europe’s biggest hydro plant is located. When it is complete, 100 percent of the electricity traveling through the interconnector will be from zero carbon sources.

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