National Grid “System Stability”

National Grid “System Stability”

Last week, National Grid System Operator released their “System Operator Innovation Strategy” for 2019/20.  This listed their top 10 priorities for 2019/20, with system stability now at the top. 

This move in priorities from National Grid has been motivated by a need to enable more non-synchronous generation i.e. renewable energy –  primarily wind and solar – along with the decrease in conventional synchronous generation: coal, gas and nuclear.

As more renewables are brought on stream, this creates issues with faster frequency changes due to intermittency. This affects levels of inertia and voltage management, making it ‘difficult for synchronous and non-synchronous generation generators to operate safely’.

Kayte O’Neill, head of strategy and regulation at National Grid System Operator, said

“The System Operator is evolving to keep up with this rapid change… We have responded to rapid decentralisation and decarbonisation in many ways, including introducing a dedicated distributed energy resource desk into our electricity control room and by taking a leading role in the discussion of decarbonisation of gas.

“To achieve these key transformations, we must innovate together as an industry. At the heart of the energy system, the System Operator is in a unique position to drive many of the changes needed to deliver the future vision we all share.

“[This document]… is a call to arms from the System Operator to the energy industry. We look forward to working with you this year to support System Operator innovation and to help deliver the futureGB energy system.”

This Innovation Strategy is following on the back of the ‘Zero Carbon Operation 2025’ report (released by their sister company, National Grid Electricity System Operator, at the start of April),  which states their ambition to “ have transformed the operation of the electricity system such that we can operate it safely and securely at zero carbon whenever there is sufficient renewable generation on-line and available to meet the total national load.”

Fintan Slye, Director of ESO, said: “Zero carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate; integrating newer technologies right across the system – from large-scale offshore wind to domestic scale solar panels – and increasing demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real-time.

“Operating a zero-carbon electricity system in 2025, whenever there is sufficient renewable generation, is a major stepping stone to full decarbonisation of the entire electricity system; enabling new technologies and removing barriers to ever-increasing levels of renewables.”

It’s clear that the push for a decarbonised energy system will need major changes to how the Grid operates.As part of this transition, and to  help maintain system stability, energy storage will be a key enabler.

As it stands, energy from renewable sources is curtailed at times of high supply and low demand. This was seen last month when the energy market experienced negative pricing, causing National Grid to curtail generation for a time.

As we increase the amount of storage capacity available in the system, we will be able to store this otherwise curtailed energy for times of need, facilitating further deployment of energy from renewable sources. ILI Group believe that pumped storage hydro is the only proven technology for storing at the grid-level capacity required, as well as providing a range of ancillary services, such as frequency response,  inertia and voltage management.

Our 450MW site, Red John,  is currently in planning, with further 2 sites planned for submission later this year, bringing a total of 2GW of PSH to the market.

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