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Views from the Forefront of the Clean Energy Transition

  • Written by John Dirkman
  • November 12, 2020
London city at sunrise

The transition to clean energy is well underway and I’m proud of our team's continued contributions. We’ve helped one of the largest utility commissions evaluate and monitor a statewide initiative to expand third-party Demand Response and battery storage. We’ve designed and evaluated some of the largest Time of Use (TOU) pilots in the USA over the past decade. We’ve designed exceedingly effective Home Energy Reports, determined distributed energy resources (DERs) locational value, and helped some of the most forward-looking utilities achieve their goals. And now, we’re doing groundbreaking work in the UK, which we will discuss in a webinar on 11/17. (We have provided the webinar recording below, at the end of this blog.) Our software, Grid360 and iEnergy, is a key part of the Active Network Management system for UK Power Networks.

In June, we issued a joint press release with Smarter Grid Solutions and GreenSync to highlight our software partnership and solution, hailed as “among the most advanced in the world” and “an industry first for grid flexibility.” Greentech Media reported on Wood Mackenzie’s Study of the solution with UK Power Networks.

What is happening on the path to Net Zero in the UK?

In the clean energy transition, software is a key component that will enable grid flexibility and make way for additional distributed energy resources to rapidly come online. We need innovative technology to make it work and keep it optimized, and that is what the Active Response Project is about. Nonwire solutions are essential to transitioning to clean energy quickly and cost-effectively.

Initial calculations for the Active Response Project benefits show over £700M in direct financial benefits up to 2050, with the costs of the effort expected to be recouped after just two years. The main purpose is to manage the uncertainty that is introduced when more Low Carbon Technologies (or DERs) connect to the grid. For example, more EVs are forecasted to connect in the UK, but we need to connect them without exceeding thermal and voltage constraints. The project will demonstrate two methods to maximize capacity in four live trials:

  1. Network Optimise – Optimisation and automatic reconfiguration of HV & LV networks in combination, using remote control switches and Soft Open Points (SOPs).
  2. Primary Connect – Controlled transfers between primary substations using a Soft Power Bridge (SPB) to share loads and optimize capacity.

How does the system work and what does it mean for EVs?

The Active Network Management (ANM) System project for UK Power Networks implements our forecasting, optimization, and customer engagement platform along with Smarter Grid Solutions’ ANM Strata to enable and accelerate interconnection and utilize customer and utility-owned generation plus energy storage, power electronic devices, and demand response to reduce system volatility, provide power during outages, and defer network upgrades primarily due to EV load growth. This project utilizes Grid360 for forecasting, analytics, and optimization and iEnergy for workflow modeling and customer engagement.

The growth of net-zero-ready technology will have a significant effect on electricity distribution networks and the uptake has been more rapid than expected. There are already more than 90,000 EVs registered in UK Power Networks’ three license areas and this is predicted to rise to 3.6 million by 2050.