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Collaborating to deliver network resilience

23 November 2021

Collaborating to deliver network resilience

23 November 2021

The clock is ticking. Electricity generator owners across the UK have less than 10 months left to ensure that their generator assets are compliant with mandatory updates to the Distribution Code.

In short, any organisation operating electricity generators between 11kw and 50MW – be it with solar panels, wind turbines, hydro power, biomass, or fossil fuel generators needs to make sure they’ve made the necessary changes to their protection settings – protecting both their own equipment and the network from potential faults.

Currently, many generators’ protection settings are too sensitive, and to deliver a more resilient and robust network, the protection settings need updating, or the generator relay may need replacing entirely. These changes must be made by 1 September 2022.

At Northern Powergrid we’ve been leading the way with the Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme (ALoMCP), which supports electricity generator owners become compliant. The ALoMCP is an industry wide scheme operated by National Grid ESO and UK Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) like us. We’re now over two-years through the three-year programme, and we are continuing to urge generators to apply to secure funding as soon as possible. 

Supporting our customers

Northern Powergrid has taken a proactive approach to helping our customers navigate the technical changes required. So far, we have helped more than 1,000 electricity generators in our region to become compliant with the new changes – totalling some 2GW in capacity.

We have a dedicated team running the programme, providing the support and advice generators need as well as establishing a working group with electrical contractors. The contractors have been a driving force behind the ALoMCP supporting thousands of electricity generators to make the system updates.

Supporting our peers

As the head of the all-DNO stakeholder working group, Northern Powergrid has also supported our network industry peers to communicate awareness of the ALoMCP to their customers, and championed a collaborative approach, taking the best practise from all our learnings and applying it at a national level.

Alongside the other DNOs, we have:

  • arranged letter drops to directly engage with larger sites across the UK;
  • shared strategies about ALoMCP communications; and
  • engaged more widely with energy suppliers, contractors, and communications specialists to deliver results.

A product of this extensive collaboration is our creative digital campaign to raise awareness about the changes and the ALoMCP funding scheme. We have developed new digital tools, including a webpage that provides clear and straightforward information about the ALoMCP, and a self-serve tool that enables generator owners to find out what steps they need to take to become compliant, based on the type of generator that they own. You can find both at futureproofyourpower.co.uk.

We have also established a second working group, to engage with UK energy suppliers. Their support has also been instrumental in raising awareness and helping customers understand more about the programme.

A strong and resilient network

The reason we have gone to such efforts to raise awareness about the programme is because encouraging electricity generators to make this one small change, will deliver significant and widespread benefits to the whole UK network.

For the generator owners, it will ensure their generator equipment is more reliable and less likely to trip off, resulting in more consistent energy generation.

From a network perspective, the changes will support a more resilient and reliable electricity system, which in turn will mean that National Grid ESO and the DNOs save money by reducing balancing costs – savings that will be passed onto consumers. The UK will also be able to bring more renewable energy online, as a more resilient grid can support more intermittent generation – ultimately helping us get closer to a net zero future.

This is a win-win situation for generator owners and the UK electricity network, and a testament to ours, and our fellow DNOs, commitment to delivering a strong and resilient network.

10 months to go – time to comply

Generators that are not compliant by 1 September 2022 will be subject to an enforcement programme.

John RowlandCompliance with the programme is not optional. The upgrades are critical to ensuring a robust and reliable electricity network and as such the enforcement programme will penalise non-compliance accordingly.

The UK DNOs are working together to ensure that the enforcement is communicated openly and transparently to encourage generator owners to engage with the ALoMCP and apply for funding before it’s too late. 

Through the strength and collaboration of UK DNOs, we are confident that we can support generator owners across the UK to become compliant ahead of the deadline, and to help deliver a safer, more resilient, and more reliable electricity network for all.

By John Rowland, Project Manager, Northern Powergrid

Visit northernpowergrid.com/ALoMCP to find out more.

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