Jan 2012
Electricity Distribution
Flexible Plug and Play Low Carbon Networks
Jan 2012
Dec 2014
UK Power Networks
UKPN Innovation Team
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LCN Fund Tier 2
Low Carbon Generation
The aim of Flexible Plug and Play is to provide a cheaper and faster distributed generation connections to the electricity distribution network.

The Flexible Plug and Play trial area is a rural area of around 700sqkm between Peterborough, March and Wisbech in Cambridgeshire in the East of England. This area has been chosen not only because there are several generation projects connected to the distribution network which has led to power flow constraints in the network, but in recent years, UK Power Networks has seen an increase in the renewable generation connection requests. If UK Power Networks were to connect the planned generation of 200MW of renewable generation in the trial area, using the ‘business as usual’ approach then extensive reinforcement work would be needed. Flexible Plug and Play will provide renewable generation developers an alternative connection to the costly and time consuming ‘business as usual’ offer.

In order to speed up the renewable generation connection, Flexible Plug and Play will trial new control and monitoring smart technologies to improve the utilisation of the existing network.

In order to provide cheaper connections, Flexible Plug and Play will look at connecting customers without incurring in expensive reinforcement while proposing to connect them to Active Network Management (ANM). This will be done in line with exploring the extent to which developers of renewable generation have an appetite for 'interruptible' connection offers.

In Spring 2013, the project deployed an internet-like, high-speed telecommunications platform to enable the data protocol IEC 61850, and novel control and monitoring smart technologies such as an Active Network Management system.

The project will also develop an investment modelling tool, called the Strategic Investment Model; this model will determine when it makes best economic and carbon sense to reinforce the networks or use smart alternatives.

Throughout the lifecycle of the project, Flexible Plug and Play will share the knowledge gained with all Distribution Network Operators in Great Britain who face the challenge of connecting high concentrations of renewable generation. Flexible Plug and Play will demonstrate how the deployment of a low carbon network solution can result in the more economic connection of distributed generation.

The project is working with a rich consortium of partners, all of whom have been chosen for their expertise and innovative culture.

Flexible Plug and Play aims to enable faster and cheaper integration of distributed generation, such as wind power or solar, into the electricity distribution network.

The project will achieve this by trialling innovative technical and commercial solutions with real customers (renewable generation developers). Specifically, the project will:

  • Deploy smart devices and systems on to the network that will make best use of the existing electricity network and allow real-time management of any network constraints. Examples of such technology that will be deployed are: Quadrature-booster transformer, dynamic rating of overhead lines and an Active Network Management system

  • Deploy the first ‘Quadrature-booster’ onto the distribution network; this is a mature technology that currently used on the transmission network, but will be trialled for the first time on the 33kV distribution network. The Quadrature-booster will be used to control active power flow on parallel lines

  • Develop a new commercial framework for providing 'interruptible' connections to generator developers

  • Develop an investment modelling tool that will determine the optimum network investment from both an economic and carbon emission perspective.