Electricity North West is trialling a range of cooling techniques at 100 of its substations to cut costs, as part of its £5.3 million Celsius project.
The network company chose the sites to be representative of the majority of substation types and locations across Great Britain and include 72 sites in Greater Manchester, 19 sites in Lancashire and nine sites in Cumbria.
Over the next 12 months, it will test techniques such as improved ventilation, heat extraction fans and alternative kinds of material for filling cable trenches to cool down substations and help get more out of the substation equipment.
Engineers have already installed temperature monitors at 520 substations. Data from the monitors is being used to understand how temperature affects the substation equipment and how cooling can help release more power onto the electricity network.
The company is also working with the National Physical Laboratory to analyse the heat and air flows in substations. This could influence the design of all substations in Great Britain in the future and potentially show how air flow in existing substations can be improved.
Electricity North West plans to carry out a series of surveys to find out what customers living near the substations think of the new techniques.
The company’s engineering and technical director Steve Cox, said: “Substations play a key role in the electricity network, linking up cables and changing voltage so that electricity is safe to use. Some of the substations in the trial operate at up to 11,000 volts which creates a lot of heat, even without the recent heatwave.
“By cooling them down in a co-ordinated way, we can make the electrical equipment in our substations more efficient and allow more power to flow through it. This means we can get more from the network we already have, release additional capacity and reduce long-term costs for customers.
“This project will help prepare the North West’s electricity network for a low-carbon future and the increase of electric vehicles, solar panels and much more.”
The Celsius project runs until March 2020.