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How we’ll increase capacity

Part of our role as network operator is to plan for the future and invest money from your bill back into the region’s electricity network. We are already planning up to 2050 and looking at how we can develop our network to meet future demand as we start to use more and more renewable energy sources such as solar panels, heat pumps and wind turbines.

Electricity North West is leading the way in trialling smart grid technologies to remove the need for additional investment and which could form the blueprint for the UK’s future electricity network.

Our innovative solution for this is C2C – the Capacity to Customers project. C2C will provide more power using existing assets. It could deliver the extra capacity we need in the future without expanding the network.

How does it work?

The electricity network is designed to keep the lights on when things go wrong and allow us to re-route power around network faults. This means that for most of the time, we only use half of our total capacity with half reserved for emergency use.

By reconfiguring the network and working smarter, we can release this extra emergency capacity to be used in your homes and businesses every day.

Reconfiguring the network

Our high voltage networks are often interconnected by a ‘normal open point’ (NOP) which is only used in the event of a network fault or planned outage. Nearly half of our circuits do not suffer faults and one third only experience faults lasting 1 - 2 hours once every 5 years. Closing the NOP allows all customers affected by a fault or outage to be re-supplied from the alternative circuit. By redesigning the network to allow the NOP to be run closed, we can join the two circuits and release their full capacity.

If we compare an electricity circuit to a motorway ­– closing the NOP is like opening up the hard shoulder – meaning we have two extra lanes allowing more traffic to use the motorway. Instead of an expensive and disruptive programme of work installing more cables and substations, we could use our emergency ‘hard shoulder’ and meet the electricity demands of the future.