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Press releases

  • 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


  • £11.5m ‘Smart Street’ trial for North West power network

    The region’s power operator, Electricity North West, is set to launch a new pioneering trial to help meet the future demand in electricity without the need to build costly new infrastructure. 

    The trial, which has secured £11.5m funding, including £8.5m from the government’s energy regulator, Ofgem, will help make sure that customers in the North West continue to get the power they need as efficiently as possible. 

    As the demand for electricity is set to double by 2050, the Smart Street trial aims to test innovative technologies to ensure the network is fully prepared for the increase in solar panels, electric vehicles and heat pumps. It will lead to lower bills for customers by helping appliances run more efficiently. 

    Steve Johnson, CEO of Electricity North West, said: “The Smart Street trial will allow us to explore new cutting edge technologies and get more from our existing network ensuring customers continue to get the power they need, without us having to invest in new expensive infrastructure. And by using technology to regulate voltage, regardless of where power is being added or taken from the network, customers could see lower bills.” 

    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 in the North West alone and £15 billion across Great Britain – the equivalent of almost £600 for every household. 

    Electricity North West will work on the project with partners including Siemens, TNEI and the University of Manchester. 

    Kevin Tutton, director in the Siemens Smart Grid Division, said: “It has been a privilege to have had a personal involvement in supporting Electricity North West in this success. The Smart Street trial will push new boundaries in the fast moving world of smart grid. This method could have profound implications on the future operation of the network at street level where real customers are connected.”