Energy & Environment Industry Today

Smarter Grid Solutions Deploy UK Smart Grid Technology

Smarter Grid Solutions Ltd ("SGS") in conjunction with Scottish and Southern Energy ("SSE") has commercially deployed Smart Grid technology on SSE's power distribution network on Orkney, allowing the connection of increased amounts of new renewable energy generation.
Published 04 December 2009

The realisation of the Orkney Smart Grid project is the culmination of over five years of work, beginning with the research and development of the technology at the University of Strathclyde in collaboration with SSE. SGS spun-out from the University of Strathclyde's Institute for Energy and Environment in 2008 to commercialise the technology developed for application on Orkney and deploy it in other constrained grid locations in the UK. The innovative Smart Grid technology being brought to market by SGS permits greater numbers of renewable energy generators to be connected to existing electricity networks.

SGS are building upon the success of the Orkney deployment and are currently working with several network operators in the UK, exploring opportunities for connecting increased levels of renewable generation to the existing grid. Such technology is required to remove near-term barriers to the connection of renewable generators and avoid or defer the requirement for building new network infrastructure. Orkney is one of the first examples of a commercially deployed Smart Grid technology in the UK and represents a significant milestone in the transition to a low carbon economy.

The Orkney Smart Grid technology manages multiple renewable generators against multiple grid bottlenecks. The solution has allowed SSE to contract with an additional 15 MW of renewable generation which otherwise would not have been able to connect to the grid; the first 3.4 MW was connected and began generating on Friday 27th November.

Yesterday the UK Government published "Smarter Grids: The Opportunity", which makes the case for developing Smart Grids in the UK. As part of this announcement, Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Hunt, said: "Smart grids will help manage the massive shift to low carbon electricity such as wind, nuclear and clean fossil fuels. Globally the business of developing smart grids has been estimated at £27 billion over the next 5 years and the UK has the know-how to be part of that."

Managing Director, Alan Gooding said: "SGS's technology is an ideal means of connecting more renewable generators quickly and cheaply, reducing the queue for generator connections and helping the UK to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets. We have ambitious plans for growth building on our unique experience of having commercially deployed a key component of the Smart Grid. We are delighted to be at the forefront of this new and rapidly growing market".

Colin Hood, Chief Operating Officer at SSE, said: "Smart Grid technology has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of the electricity distribution and transmission network in the UK. This deployment provides a blueprint for how Smart Grids can be used to connect high penetrations of renewable generation in a cost effective way and resolve grid congestion as a result.

"The connection of similar levels of renewable generation on Orkney by the conventional means of network reinforcement would have cost around £30 million. The total cost of developing and delivering this innovative solution has been substantially less than this and taken far less time."

Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: "Innovative research has a critical role to play in securing the UK's energy future and helping to drive down CO2 emissions. Today's announcement reflects Scotland's position as a leader not only in energy research expertise, but in the practical deployment of new technologies.

"Enhancing Strathclyde's successful links with industry is a key part of our strategic mission for knowledge exchange and SGS' success to date underlines the positive impact these partnerships can have on society and the wider economy. We look forward to watching the company going from strength to strength."

Operations Director, Bob Currie described the principles of the Smart Grid technology: "SGS deploy information and communications technology to support real-time monitoring and management of renewable generators connected to the grid. The Orkney 'Smart Grid' is based on the principle that capacity exists in real-time on the grid due to variation in demand for electricity and diversity in the output of grid connected generators. SGS technology enhances access to existing grid capacity, enabling increased connection of renewable generators."

Bob continued "SGS are developing other Smart Grid technologies to permit greater use of low carbon sources of electricity generation and to support electricity network operators make the transition to the Smart Grid."

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