Northern Powergrid has begun the next phase of work on a significant and technically challenging project to modernise and future-proof more than 860 of its substation controllers for the implementation of smart grid solutions and applications. This next phase will see investment of £15 million in the next generation of substation controller to make Smart Substations more of a reality. This element of the Smart Grid Enablers programme will begin in August 2018 and is scheduled to complete in 2023.
Northern Powergrid’s £83 million Smart Grid Enablers programme, is preparing its regional economy for rapid growth of electric vehicles, domestic heat pumps and renewable power. It is the UK’s most comprehensive network upgrade programme, creating the backbone of a smart grid, supporting the North’s ambitions to put low-carbon technology at the centre of its economy, and enabling solutions that could save up to £500 million by 2031.
Mark Nicholson, Head of Smart Grid Implementation at Northern Powergrid, says: “This is a significant and technically challenging operation drawing on many of our highly specialist technical functions across the business – it has been an impressive team effort between Northern Powergrid and ZIV Automation UK Ltd to get us to this stage. The advantage at the end of this work will be infrastructure that will enable us to operate our network in a more flexible way to deliver more value for our customers through smarter, more efficient and cost-effective services.”
The Smart Substations project will see Northern Powergrid work with ZIV Automation UK Ltd to replace the substation Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) equipment and establish a modern platform for the implementation of next generation smart grid solutions and applications.
The RTU acts as an interface to the electrical plant within a substation, marshalling alarms, plant status and analogue data (such as voltage, current and power information) and communicating with control engineers via the Network Management System. The RTU directs the digital control commands from the control engineer to operate equipment such as circuit breakers and tap changers within the substation, while also providing the platform for more advanced control schemes within the substation.
Northern Powergrid recently completed the project’s proof of concept phase, in close partnership with ZIV Automation UK Ltd Ltd. This initial phase drew on specialist expertise from across the DNO’s business. Key activities carried out during this period included developing software and integrating communications programmes, acceptance testing of the RTU at Northern Powergrid’s Control Centres in the North East and Yorkshire, and the installation, testing and commissioning of RTUs to the live network at Beeston Royds, Dunkeswick, Chirton Grange and Wansbeck substations. The next phase of £15m project will build on experience developed in this initial phase and provide a platform for developing further substation functionality, ensuring maximum return on investment.
Northern Powergrid operates 8,000 substations across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, delivering power to 3.9 million homes and businesses in the region. It is currently laying the foundations of its customer-led transition to become a distributed system operator (DSO), and this work will form a key part of that change.