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UK Launches First Coordinated System for Renewable Energy

January 26, 2021 by Luke James

The United Kingdom’s first-of-its-kind energy transmission system, which went live in mid-December 2020, has been introduced by National Grid ESO and other major UK energy organisations. This will enable more renewable energy to connect to the electricity system with enhanced efficiency.

This is the promise of key individuals behind the South Coast Regional Development Programme (SCRDP), a collaboration between National Grid ESO (Electricity System Operator), National Grid Electricity Transmission, and UK Power Networks. UK Power Networks is the very first distribution network operator that will use the system, which will be gradually rolled out to other participating networks throughout 2021.


One of Europe’s Most Dynamic Energy Networks

The south coast of England has one of Europe’s most dynamic energy networks, and due to the country’s local climate, significant amounts of renewable energy are generated here. Plus, the region also has a nuclear power station (‘Dungeness B’) and interconnecting cables to the European mainland.

All of the above makes the management of electricity flows quite a complex challenge for transmission and distribution companies like UK Power Networks.


Part of National Grid ESO's Electricity Control Centre being controlled by an operator who monitors the system’s various interfaces

Image credit: National Grid ESO


Unlocking Britain’s Renewable Energy Potential

The coordinated system represents the latest initiative in National Grid ESO’s Regional Development Programme. It has been designed to help achieve a higher capacity for regionally-connected power resources in the South of England.

As the first distribution network operator to use the system, UK Power Networks has so far enabled up to 600 megawatts of distributed energy resources to be connected in the region. Distributed energy resources are connected and provide power to regional networks (as opposed to the UK’s main transmission system). This improves grid flexibility and the ability of that grid to utilise energy resources beyond those from large, centralised power stations.

The new system connects directly to the local network operator’s control room (in this case UK Power Networks) with National Grid ESO’s control room. This provides engineers and other operators with the optimal visibility and control needed to achieve balance within the system. This ultimately enables enhanced efficiency in the management of the UK south coast region’s growing volume of distributed energy resources.

National Grid ESO has also been working with National Grid Electricity Transmission, Scottish and Southern Energy Networks, and Western Power Distribution as part of the initiative. Again, the system will be rolled out all along the south coast throughout 2021.


Achieving Net Zero 

According to Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid at UK Power Networks, it’s innovations like the coordinated system and a ‘trial by doing’ approach that will enable the UK to achieve its 2050 ‘net zero’ goals. “This is the first time in the UK that we see a distribution and a transmission system operator coordinating in real time, supporting the wider system. I’m delighted that we're collaborating with National Grid to make it a reality, as it will ultimately deliver benefits for our customers,” he said.

Adding onto this work, UK Power Networks and National Grid ESO will now develop the next stage of their regional development programme in the south-east of England. This will see new commercial and technical arrangements put in place to altogether incentivise electricity generators to support the national transmission system.

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