Network Innovation Competition - Ofgem

Following a successful Network Innovation Competition fund bid to Ofgem, Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC), as part of the University of Strathclyde, will be part of a revolutionary design and trial of next generation digital substations.

This project, led by UK Power Networks, hopes to release 1.4GW of capacity across the UK (enough to power more than 700,000 homes), save consumers more than £750 million and to offset more than 19m tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions by 2050.

The project, known as Constellation, will install pioneering intelligence in substations to enable the deployment of multiple smart applications delivering customer benefits. This will include functionality that will optimise distribution network utilisation in order to facilitate the rise in renewable energy generation. If successful, the project will help the energy sector contribute further to net-zero targets whilst reducing the need for investment in additional infrastructure.

Constellation marks a transformation in the way electricity networks operate. It will provide substations with local intelligence and the processing power to analyse millions of datapoints, enabling the network to automatically reconfigure to safely accommodate higher volumes of electricity.

PNDC with its unique facilities and highly specialised R&D engineers will host the first digital substation demonstrator; this will be used to develop and de-risk all the smart substation functionalities before being deployed in the distribution network trial.

PNDC will play a key role in developing the designs to ensure Constellation is scalable across the UK, and in supporting technology vendors in the development of smart grid functionalities. As the project progresses PNDC will lead an open innovation competition, providing an exciting opportunity for technology vendors to participate and partner in developing and deploying innovative systems.

Dr Federico Coffele, R&D Director, from the Power Networks Demonstration Centre, said:

“This announcement is very exciting for the industry and will help us to develop and trial the next generation of digital substations, which will be a huge step forward for the industry. This solution will enable faster and more cost-effective development and deployment of smart solutions.”

Ian Cameron, head of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks, said:

“We are creating a platform that will enable this smart solution to be deployed throughout the country and enable more renewable energy to connect quickly and efficiently. We already have smart control rooms and grid edge devices such as smart electric vehicle chargers, and now having smart substations in the middle pulling it all together is a logical next step.”