Network firms join forces to boost renewables

Electricity grid operators have hailed a partnership aimed at keeping more renewable energy flowing into the system as a major success.

The group of four businesses - National Grid, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, UK Power Networks and Western Power Distribution - installed a new system for connecting renewables into the grid, which is designed to reduce the number of interruptions to supply.

The firms estimate it currently costs £40 million a year to deal with sudden changes to the amount of electricity on the network across the South Coast of England and can cause some generators to stop exporting power unnecessarily.

More reliable

Distributed energy generators such as solar parks and wind farms use standard protection systems when they connect to an electricity network, mainly to safeguard the generator or the electricity network from interruptions on the local system.

The protection also prevents distributed generation from being disconnected, due to an interruption on the wider network.

Computer modelling conducted by National Grid found a current standard protection system, known as “Vector Shift”, was highly sensitive to disruptions in the wider network.

Instead, the companies linked up with strategically-located generators and offered to fund upgrading their protection to a new system called “High

Setting RoCof”, which they believe will be more reliable. The firms installed their new system at 70 sites, accommodating up to 800MW of generation capacity.

‘Standout example’

Matt White, lead power system development engineer at UK Power Networks, said: “This is a standout example of partnership working, with the four utility companies coming together and successfully developing a solution for the benefit of all our customers.”

“There was a real imperative to make the short-term move to a more resilient type of protection in time for this summer, and we have come together to achieve it.

“The result means more renewable energy on the network and tens of millions of pounds saved in costs, which will ultimately save money for our customers.”

> Read the announcement