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Northern Powergrid to launch smart-grid programme

2021-11-11 Northern Powergrid

Northern Powergrid, the electricity distribution network operator for the North East of England, has launched a smart-grid Microresilience pilot programme.

The £2.5m first-of-its-kind smart-grid programme, known as Microresilience, uses energy storage systems and innovative communications technology. It’s being piloted at two key locations – Newcastle’s historic Swing Bridge, and the remote forest village of Byrness, Northumberland – each chosen for the unique challenges they present to the resilience of the energy network.

In June this year, the UK Climate Change Committee highlighted protecting the power system from climate-related failure as an urgent priority. And think-tank Institut Français des Relations Internationales identified the power sector as a prime target for cyber-criminals, with both the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity and the UK electricity system’s administrator Elexon coming under attack in 2020.

Microresilience is a Northern Powergrid collaboration with Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS), the innovative smart grid software company that will use the pioneering Open Field Message Bus (OpenFMB) protocol on their control platform to enable real-time communication between the network and the Microresilience technology. Northern Powergrid is also collaborating with Turbo Power Systems (TPS), a company that will provide an innovative power electronic device.

Glasgow-based SGS’s Strata Resilience distributed energy resources management software (DERMS) will be used to manage the network as a set of separate microgrids, able to operate as ‘islands’ if a fault develops across the wider network. The project will show how battery storage can ensure renewable energy is available when electricity demand is high and help power these ‘islands’ when the grid is under pressure, for instance during a storm.

Iain Miller, Head of Innovation at Northern Powergrid, said: “We work constantly to find innovative ways to improve our network and protect our customers from a power cut. This Microresilience project offers a blueprint to deliver the most reliable, affordable, and sustainable power possible for the parts of our network that need it the most.

“Microresilience will enable us to test and build a more robust, storm-resistant, community-centric network, with customers, communities and locations directly benefiting from lower risks of a sustained power cut. The learnings from this project will also inform a wider roll-out of smart technology across our region and the UK.”