Smart grids

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UK Power Networks has announced plans to procure 250MW of flexibility in its largest tender to date, worth £50 million. The distribution network operator is seeking flexibility in more than 130 locations, which for the first time will include extra high voltage sites.
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Centrica has completed a £16.7 million three-year energy market trial in Cornwall that saw local and national network operators simultaneously buy flexibility for the first time. Participants in the trial, which included 200 homes and businesses, successfully traded 310MWh of flexibility over its course.
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Western Power Distribution has launched a new domestic flexibility trial that will see households paid to keep their electricity usage at or below a pre-agreed level during weekday peaks in demand. This is in contrast with most previous flexibility services which usually require providers to reduce their consumption by a specified amount.
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Conor Maher-McWilliams, head of flexibility at Ovo’s smart technology arm Kaluza, discusses the company’s direct-to-car smart charging trial with Bosch, why some networks are easier to deal with than others, and how it is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to better understand flexibility in heating.  
Analysis
Utility Week speaks to Frederic Godemel, executive vice president for power systems at Schneider Electric, about their efforts to make switchgear both smarter and greener by integrating monitoring and communications technology and ending the use of SF6 as an insulator.
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Latest in Smart grids

Utility Week’s report explores the need for change to historical low voltage network monitoring approaches from DNOs and highlights advances in technology which can help them derive multi-layered value from new monitoring investments.
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A senior figure at Northern Powergrid has said the company is being “careful” not to “overpay” for flexibility and suggested some distribution network operators (DNOs) may be procuring more than they actually need “just to have a high number”. Discussing the company’s draft business plan for the RIIO2 price controls, policy and markets director Patrick Erwin said it is also refraining from creating separate body to perform its distribution system operator (DSO) functions, describing this as an “artificial distinction”.
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What new pressures on reliability and resilience will tomorrow’s net zero energy system create? Denise Chevin posed the question to participants at a recent Utility Week roundtable in association with S&C Electric.
Analysis
Utility Week’s Future Networks Conference was a forum for lively debate on topics from the tenets of net zero-friendly regulation to how networks should support local decarbonisation pathways and what responsibilities that have for stirring up public endorsement of the transition.
Market insight
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has announced plans to use near real-time smart meter data to detect and respond to power cuts. The company said the information will not only help to restore power supplies quicker in the moment but also inform investment decisions to improve long-term network performance.
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Looming changes to network fees will significantly reduce the value of domestic vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging, according to the findings from a government-sponsored trial. Analysis of the results suggested that V2G charging could allow drivers to save or earn £340 annually – compared to £120 per year for smart charging alone – but planned changes to network fees could see this amount chopped in half.
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To deliver a cost effective and equitable transition to net zero, the full potential of system data and digitalisation must be brought to bear. But what key enablers must be in place to support this, and what specific outcomes should the industry be looking to achieve? Download our report for unique insight into expert industry views.
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Ofgem has admitted Emergent Energy to its new “regulatory sandbox,” which allows innovators to receive derogations from specific rules and regulations so they can trial new products and services. Emergent Energy said this “unique permission” will enable the firm to supply residents in housing developments with green electricity and heat generated onsite through microgrids leased from the developer or landlord.
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From urging companies to fire up consumers about energy, to more efforts to open up data, strong messages emerged in the virtual think-tank convened by Utility Week with Microsoft and Accenture on accelerating the transition to net zero. Denise Chevin chaired.
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