Software designed by Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS) has been placed at the heart of the world’s most advanced electricity network control system, which is being rolled out by electricity distributor UK Power Networks.

UK Power Networks will use SGS’s Active Network Management (ANM) Strata platform to run its new £15m system.

SGS’s platform will enable more than 500MW of distributed energy resources (DERs) – including solar panels and wind turbines – to be connected to the grid cheaper and faster, generating enough power for 250,000 homes.

The ANM system will use innovative technology to process vast amounts of data to safely and more efficiently run the network, which is now supplied by more than 165,000 electricity producers.

By having the most complete view possible of everything that is happening on the network at any given moment, the system will make complex decisions autonomously to optimise the available power. 

The system will cut the time it takes to connect DERs to the grid and reduce the need to build or upgrade infrastructure, which in turn will save money.

SGS’s technology allows UK Power Networks to deliver on a promise made last year to offer all customers flexible connections by 2020, It will enable them to connect solar and wind to the grid without having to pay for extra infrastructure, in return for agreeing to reduce their output occasionally to help balance supply and demand across the network.

ANM will support flagship innovation projects including Optimise Prime, which is the world’s largest commercial electric vehicle fleet demonstrator, and Active Response, which will show how spare power can be moved around the network to maximise capacity. It will also provide the market platform for ‘flexibility services’ to implement the flexibility contract auction results recently reported.

SGS will use software company Nexant’s Grid360 product to provide the network management and online power systems analytic functions for the new system, building on the existing partnership between the two firms.

Australian outfit GreenSync’s ‘deX’ product will be incorporated into the system to provide a distributed energy marketplace, harnessing its ground-breaking work in neutral market facilitation for distribution system operators (DSOs).

Bob Currie, chief technology officer at Glasgow-based SGS, said: “This is a watershed moment for the management of distribution networks and DERs. We are delighted to work with UK Power Networks to deliver flexibility services markets and innovative control schemes across its licence areas to enable clean and distributed energy resources to connect to the grid and realise their full value.”

Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid development at UK Power Networks, said his company will be the first in the world to roll-out its advanced network control centre system across its entire network at all voltage levels, leap-frogging other companies that have only installed the technology on a limited basis. 

He said: “We are creating a platform for the network of the future and we’re taking it further and faster than anyone in the world has done before. This business-as-usual project demonstrates that innovation is truly embedded in our business. Having ANM integrated into our entire network control system is going to open the door to an almost limitless range of smart grid applications.”