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Press releases

    • £9 million smart grid funding bid for North West

      The North West’s power network operator, Electricity North West, is to trial a cutting edge technique to increase capacity in the local grid without building costly new infrastructure.

      The company has won government funding for an ambitious £9m trial to help make sure that customers in the North West can get the power they need in the future.

      At certain times during high demand, the network runs almost at capacity, but to increase capacity by building more lines could cost billions. Instead, Electricity North West will trial slightly reducing the voltage it delivers to thousands of homes and businesses in the region when demand is at its peak. The change will be unnoticeable to customers.

      Steve Johnson, CEO of Electricity North West, 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 us operate networks.

      “This innovative approach will help us get the most from the infrastructure we already have, with customers still getting the power they need. Turning the voltage down by 1% for example, would mean a kettle could take a few more seconds to boil, but it would also mean that customers won’t end up paying for costly new lines.”

      The demand for electricity could double by 2050 as the UK moves towards cleaner energy and reduces its reliance on fossil fuels.

      It’s estimated that the cost of upgrading the UK electricity network by building more infrastructure to meet future demand could be as much as £1.8 billion by 2025 just in the North West, and £15 billion across Great Britain – the equivalent of almost £600 for every household.

      Electricity North West was awarded the funding for the Customer Load Active System Services (CLASS) project following a bid to Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund.

      It will work on the project with partners including Siemens, GE Digital Energy, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Chiltern Power, National Grid, Impact Research and The University of Manchester.

    • Ofgem approves £57 million for projects paving the way for smarter grids

      Energy regulator Ofgem has today announced that six projects are to share £57 million of funding to help local power networks become smarter. The money comes from Ofgem‟s £500 million Low Carbon Networks Fund (LCN Fund).

      The projects will run in several areas across Britain, piloting new technology and commercial arrangements. They will create learning which will be shared amongst all local grid companies so they can develop the networks of the future. Innovation could reduce the need to invest in new network assets such as substations or overhead lines by making better use of those which are already there.

      Rachel Fletcher, Ofgem‟s Acting Senior Partner for Smarter Grids, Governance and Distribution, said: “Britain‟s energy grids need to undergo a revolution in how they are run so they can connect more renewable generators and a range of low carbon technologies such as ground source heat pumps. There is a significant opportunity for companies to contain the cost of this transition by making better use of existing capacity and exploring the scope to use demand side response.

      “Lessons learnt from the projects will be shared with all network companies and other interested parties. The aim here is to ensure that the networks do not hold up the decarbonisation of our energy use, and that the cost of this transition is kept as low as possible for customers.”

      One of the projects involves installing electric storage batteries in homes, schools and an office to see if customers could be encouraged to use this stored electricity at times of peak demand. This would reduce the load on the networks and mean customers would be rewarded with lower bills.

      Another project involves using network capacity which up to now, has only been used in the event of outages due to power cuts or planned maintenance. This „latent‟ capacity could be used to connect more renewables without impacting on secure supplies. Several projects involve better use of existing network capacity to manage congestion on the grid, or looking at how more low carbon generation can be connected without having to build new power lines.

      Source: Ofgem