The electricity networks owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that the electricity networks used to connect consumers with generation sources are sufficiently reliable, resilient and increasingly that sustainability targets can be met at an affordable cost to the consumer.
The need to decarbonise the energy system is leading to the closure of large synchronous generation plants and the connection of renewable but intermittent generation sources. This evolution of the electricity system has introduced significant new challenges for Network Operators that require creative and innovative solutions. These challenges include the management of network constraints and balancing the electricity system with reducing inertia, all whilst facilitating the connection of new low carbon generation and demand in a timely and affordable manner.
The transition from Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to Distribution System Operator (DSO) is a significant industry shift with the aim to increase network flexibility at distribution level and assist in driving the increase in renewable and low carbon technologies, whist minimising costs. The evolution to DSO will create a more flexible and adaptive electricity distribution system that will accelerate the transition to Net Zero whilst representing best value for money for electricity network customers.
Meeting the challenges of the evolving system to drive decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation.
National Grid’s Pathfinder programme is another exciting industry development which is incorporating new markets for services such as inertia, fault level, voltage management and constraints. This is giving opportunities to new developments that can supply these services, whist the network operators are using these services to assist with system issues.
The need for complex power systems modelling such as transient overvoltage and control system interaction is increasing as the networks become increasingly challenging to manage, particularly as generation with long connections to the existing network, such as offshore wind, is integrated into the networks in ever-increasing quantities. The trend is set to continue as further bulk renewable energy and distribution-connected low carbon technologies are integrated into the networks.