Jan 2018
Electricity Distribution and Electricity Transmission
Active Response to Distribution Network Constraints
Jan 2018
Nov 2021
UK Power Networks, London Power Networks, SP Distribution and SP Manweb
UKPN Innovation Team
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Network Innovation Competition
Active Network Management, Carbon Emission Reduction Technologies, Demand Response, Demand Side Management, LV & 11kV Networks and Network Automation
UK Power Networks (UKPN) is seeing an increase in the uptake of LCTs. Nationally, ultra low-emission vehicle (ULEV) registrations have increased by 47% since 2015 and by 118% since 2014. This means that there are currently more than 16,600 electric vehicles (EVs) registered across our three licence areas, following a trend close to the “Gone Green” scenario.  However, the uptake of heat pumps is lower than previously forecast. 

There has also been growth in local generation such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, largely driven by the Mayor of London’s target to generate 25% of London’s heat and power requirements locally by 2025. 

In addition, Transport For London (TfL) is setting policy and targets to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality. This includes making taxis and private hire vehicles low emission capable, which corresponds to all new vehicles from 2018 and an entire 88,000 fleet by 2033. We estimate that electrifying the Greater London bus and taxi fleets could result in an increase of up to 2.8GW of new load on our London network by 2033 – more than half of the existing peak demand. We estimate that up to £331m of additional reinforcement would be required in RIIO-ED1 and ED2 under these circumstances, of which more than 66% would be attributable to HV reinforcement.

We expect that other local authorities will follow London’s lead to meet the Carbon Plan targets in their areas. To avoid a significant increase in infrastructure costs, DNOs require a toolbox of smart technical and commercial solutions to manage the increase in demand in the most efficient and effective way. The implementation of these smart solutions will make the distribution networks more complex, both to plan and to operate, requiring overarching systems and policies that enable visibility and allow safe operation.
Within the smart toolbox, technical solutions include Powerful-CB to alleviate fault level constraints at main substations; commercial solutions include flexibility arrangements with customers to provide demand or generation response services such as those enabled in the TDI 2.0 project. These solutions do not yet cover all situations, leaving room for additional smart solutions.  Active Response proposes to add additional functionality to this toolbox, ensuring that the lights are kept on at the least cost to customers. 
Active Response proposes to develop and trial advanced automation and power electronics to release distribution network capacity at minimum cost, equipping DNOs with suitable tools to deploy proactively as a response to the challenges presented by the uptake of LCTs.

Network meshing (connecting circuits together to share load) is a well-understood method of releasing capacity to overcome constraints on the distribution network. However, in many locations it is not possible to apply this method due to network complexity, voltage difference, uneven load sharing, phase shifts, circulating current, or fault level. 

Power electronic devices are a key enabling technology that allows meshing of networks where it is otherwise not possible by direct connections. Active Response proposes to develop Soft Open Points (SOPs) at HV and LV to TRL 8 and operate these as part of an automated, meshed network.

We are looking to build on the award winning FUN – LV project, which developed SOP technology from TRL 4 to TRL 6 at LV. 

Active Response will also develop an advanced automation and optimisation system, with the ability to change network configuration and control DNO and third party owned flexible devices.  Elements of this system will build on learning from existing projects as discussed on page 6 under "How is the project innovative". This will allow us and other DNOs to optimise the operation of our networks measured by efficiency, cost, losses, customers at risk, or other parameters under normal conditions; and maximise supply restoration under post-fault conditions. 

We intend to trial these technical solutions in two areas with different network architectures. Along with the SOPs, these areas will include measurement and remote control devices with HV remote control, LV circuit breakers (CBs) and link box switches. This will enable us to trial the interaction between the power electronic equipment and prove the benefits of the advanced automation and optimisation system. 

The purpose is to prove that the SOP technology interacts positively with traditional and automated meshing techniques to release capacity at minimum cost, overcoming constraints more quickly and avoiding traditional reinforcement investment.