Building on the success of three projects awarded to the University of Strathclyde during Round 1 of Ofgem’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) Challenges, PNDC has been awarded two out of six successful projects involving the university which are aiming to increase grid resilience and accelerate the UK’s transition to net zero at the lowest cost to consumers.


Investigating how new combinations of 5G networks can deliver more resilient networks at far lower cost than would otherwise be required. The move towards net zero means that the electrical distribution network needs to be much more agile than it has been, and that agility requires the support of resilient wireless networks. Particularly in rural areas, such resilience is lacking in existing mobile networks, but it is in precisely these areas that much of the distributed generation, such as wind farms, can be found.

Strathclyde PI: Dr James Irvine and Dr Kinan Ghanem.
Project Partners: UK Power Networks.

The CommsConnect project will use combinations of public and private 5G networks to provide Distribution Network Operators with low-cost resilient communications. PNDC will leverage its unique capability of two 5G wireless networks on site with a wide variety of power equipment to investigate how services can fail over between networks. As well as reducing the network’s carbon footprint compared to a single hardened network, CommsConnect will give benefits in terms of reductions in both costs and outages.

Dr James Irvine, University of Strathclyde Academic Lead for the Communications and Security themes at PNDC said:
University of Strathclyde

“CommsConnect takes the same approach to networks that RAID takes to storage – we combine inexpensive networks to provide the resilience operators require at a fraction of the cost.”

Dr Kinan Ghanem, a senior communications and systems integration research engineer at PNDC, said:
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“Smart grid critical applications are becoming heavily dependent on secure communications network infrastructure for their operation and management. CommsConnect considers several communication network design approaches to improve power resilience and save operational and maintenance costs. Our hybrid solution can reduce the risk of any electricity networks outage caused by comms failure.”


By determining and then implementing the requirements, specifications and architecture for control room simulator facilities, Trinity seeks to address the increasing complexity facing control room staff and systems that are being driven by the net zero transition.

Strathclyde PI: Dr Kyle Jennett & Professor Federico Coffele.
Project Partners: UK Power Networks, GE, and PNDC.

Dr Kyle Jennett, a lead R&D engineer at PNDC, said of the Trinity project:
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“The challenges in the operation of distribution networks are evolving quickly, and innovative solutions that can be deployed in DNOs’ control rooms continue to emerge. De-risking and commissioning these innovative solutions within the existing control room is a slow and restricted approach to validate innovation, which risks blocking some of the most innovative solutions and delays the overall innovation process.”