Electricity distributor SP Energy Networks has appointed Conrad Energy, the UK’s largest Independent Power Producer, to assist with a ground-breaking project to utilise reactive power to solve network constraints, helping support communities and customers on the journey to net zero emissions.

It’s the first time a UK distribution network operator (DNO) has contracted with a third party to provide a reactive power service at a distribution level, helping SP Energy Networks lead the way towards a cleaner, greener future – a vision shared by Conrad Energy.  

The voltage on the electrical system is a core component of maintaining its overall stability. As our system has become more complex, with less traditional power stations and greater volumes of low carbon technologies, there is a need to find new ways to support system voltage. A key part of that voltage support is reactive power. Reactive power is generated or absorbed by different types of equipment connected to the electrical network. As the traditional sources of reactive power have reduced, this has led to the need to find alternative sources.

Conrad Energy have signed on to a contract that will run from July through until the end of October, and a pilot of the new technology will be carried out in August for five days across Flintshire in Wales, demonstrating this innovative solution.

Graham Campbell, Head of Distribution System Operations at SP Energy Networks, said: “It’s really exciting to be the first UK DNO to be able to contract for reactive power at a distribution level and I look forward to the trial in August, proving the capability of this new flexibility service.

“We’re proud to be working with Conrad Energy on this project, which will help us better manage our network and support the expected increase in low carbon technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps.

“These technologies will play a pivotal role in the green economic recovery and the wider push towards net zero emissions targets and I’m delighted that SP Energy Networks is at the forefront driving this change through innovation.”

Lee Priestley, Commercial Director at Conrad Energy said: “Supporting this project from our flexible generation site at Flint cements our excellent relationship with SP Energy Networks and we are delighted to be working with them to further the transition to net zero. 

“The ability of the project to provide a range of services at the distribution level as well as increase energy resilience reflects our guiding principle of working towards enabling the proliferation of renewable power.”

SP Energy Networks is part of the ScottishPower group, a Principal Partner for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow later this year. Ahead of the conference, the company will launch a series of innovations to help supercharge the UK’s journey to Net Zero emissions.

It is developing an energy model that will play a significant role in reaching the UK’s world-leading climate change targets and is investing a total of £10bn in the clean energy generation and networks infrastructure needed to help the UK decarbonise and reach Net Zero emissions.

SP Energy Networks owns and manages overhead and underground powerlines in southern and central Scotland as well as Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and north Shropshire.

For more information about SP Energy Networks and its services, please visit: spenergynetworks.co.uk