The company which distributes electricity to 2.4 million properties in the north west has secured funding from Ofgem for a £10.7m trial which could double the capacity of power networks without the need for new cables or overhead lines.
Electricity North West, based in Warrington, said it plans to open up the half of the regional network that is currently reserved as a back-up and use it to distribute power to homes and businesses to meet increased demand.
If it proves successful, the project could reduce the need for costly new infrastructure and will provide additional capacity to developments more quickly.
Ofgem is providing £9.2m for the trial through its Low Carbon Networks Fund. ENW and other partners will invest £1.5m.
Steve Johnson, chief executive of ENW, said: “This project aims to get more out of what's already built by bringing together new technology developed by our engineers and partners to transform the way distribution companies like Electricity North West operate networks.
“Half of the electricity in the region isn't used and is simply on stand-by to kick in when there's an emergency. This isn't the most productive use of assets that cost billions to build. Our new project will release this latent capacity on a controlled basis.
“This could have a profound effect on the way distribution is managed in the future.”
ENW owns and manages 13,000km of overhead lines, 43,000km of underground cables and 38,000 transformers and serves five million people across the region.
It said demand for electricity could double by 2050 as the UK reduces its reliance on fossil fuels.
The trial will run for three years from January and, if successful, could be implemented across the UK by other network operators. Firms including Parsons Brinckerhoff, GE Energy, npower and National Grid as well as Manchester University will work with ENW on the project.
Source: Manchester Evening News