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24/05/2011: £10m low-carbon bid for North West

A multimillion-pound scheme that could see the North West develop a revolutionary new way to manage its energy network is through to the second stage of a national competition.

Energy regulator, Ofgem, today announced that Electricity North West’s bid to the Low Carbon Networks Fund has passed the initial screening stage and the operator will be invited to submit a full bid.

Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2050, due to more people using electricity for heating and transport instead of fossil fuels. Traditional ways to cope with this demand would be to double the size of electricity networks, however Electricity North West hopes to investigate using spare capacity already built into the network, as an alternative to building more lines.

Paul Bircham, Electricity North West’s Customer Strategy and Regulation Director, said: “All electricity networks have spare capacity built in so that if there’s a power cut on one circuit, another circuit can take on additional supplies until the original circuit is restored.

“In reality, this spare capacity is very rarely used. If we’re successful with the bid, then we’ll develop the technology to be able to free-up this capacity to enable more power to be distributed along our network, and manage the risk in a different way, through demand-side management.

“Getting through to the next stage of the bidding process is great news – this trial could really make a difference to how networks are operated in the future.”

Electricity North West has bid for £10.1 to Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund and has been invited to submit a more detailed proposal later this year.

“This investment would allow us to be at the forefront of innovation nationally,” added Paul. “It would be a real boost for the North West and could play a big role in helping us move to a low-carbon economy.”

The final submission is due in August, with a decision by an expert panel due in November.

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