UK utility’s six-year smart grid pilot wraps up

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks have successfully completed a six-year smart grid pilot.

The £18m Shetland-based Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) project was launched in 2011 to increase the amount of renewables being consumed in a small island-based distribution network.

The pilot saw Shetland consume 30% renewable energy and also resulted in a reduction of diesel energy usage at Lerwick Power Station by 10% to 15%.

Under the project, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) integrated demand-side management, energy storage technologies and multiple software, business models and devices used to control and monitor energy networks.

The project saw 8.5MW of renewables integrated with the utility’s distribution network. The renewable energy generation facilities were integrated with a 1MW energy storage system to provide electricity to 234 residential properties, owned by Hjaltland Housing Association. The projects include:

  • Two tidal energy projects in Bluemull Sound: the 45kW Cullivoe trial tidal turbine and the 500kW Shetland Tidal array;
  • 3MW Luggies Knowe wind turbine to the north of Gremista;
  • 500kW North Hoo wind turbine above the Port Business Park;
  • And 4.5MW Garth wind farm in Cullivoe.

Smart grid tech improving grid stability

SSEN said in a statement that it developed one of the world’s most advanced active network management system and has learnt that an electricity network can securely operate with high integration of renewable energy resources.

The pilot also helped SSEN to understand how smart grid technologies can be used to manage how and when electricity is used for improved resiliency, efficiency and stability of an energy distribution system.

Pilot supports move to low carbon economy

SSEN head of asset management and innovation Stewart Reid said the ANM identifies when energy demand is high and what available energy there is in storage.

The same is true if there is low demand but lots of renewable energy available. In that case the system will send that energy into the storage systems to wait until it is required.

Stewart Reid, Head of Asset Management and Innovation at SSEN, said: “By creating flexible demand on the islands, through the use of smart technology and energy storage, we have made progress in exploiting and maximising Shetland’s renewable generation potential and reducing the generated output from thermal power stations.

“This was an important achievement as it will inform the transition to a low carbon economy. It also offered us the opportunity to trial the technology in an environment which could then be applied to the wider-GB electricity network.”

Reid points out: “There is significant roll out potential in the UK with over 2.2 million homes currently using electrical heating systems, which could adopt similar technology.”