The electricity network is changing, and the way we monitor and communicate with it has to change to meet future demands placed upon it. Low Carbon Technologies (LCTs) such as electric vehicles and heat pumps are being installed in rapidly increasing numbers both by domestic and commercial consumers. Building a network to cope passively with new potential peaks and possible reverse power flows would be very costly and inefficient. However, many of the new LCTs being installed offer their own opportunities to mitigate their impact – for example battery storage systems and electric vehicles can be used to “soak up” excess generation in order to reduce levels of reverse power flow, while incentives in the form of price signals can encourage customers to modify their consumption patterns in order to reduce peak levels of demand.
Such adoption of “smart” technologies to actively manage load will have significant benefit to costs, reliability, and security of supply. Furthermore, the intermittency and diversity of renewable sources of generation can be exploited when assessing the capacity of the network to accept new connections – provided sources of generation can be controlled as necessary, additional capacity can be released in order to maximise the amount of generation connected while minimising the costs of the associated infrastructure.
Critical to the successful operation of these new systems is good quality, reliable, and timely data relating to the state of the network, representing a need to carry out a significant amount of work to upgrade National Grid’s data acquisition capabilities, both in the range of points that we monitor and in the means by which we communicate data back to our central systems.