The new ground-breaking development has been established to boost southeast England’s grid capacity as well as getting generators linked up without costly reinforcements.
UK Power Networks (UKPN) said in a statement that the scheme represents an important step in its move to becoming a distribution system operator.
Responding to the changing role of distribution networks
UKPN's head of smart grid development Sotiris Georgiopoulos, said: "The role of the distribution networks is changing, and we need to work closely with the national transmission network operator to deliver cost-effective solutions. This is the first time in the UK that we see the distribution systems operator role in action, supporting the wider system."
UKPN describes the management of electricity flows in the southeast as complex due to the escalating volume of renewable generation and the multiple interconnectors throughout the region. UKPN adds that transmission operators' network constraints translate to generators in some areas of Kent and Sussex facing extremely high costs to connect to the power grid.
Active network management is being considered as a solution to promote a more granular operation of the grid. Detailed models have been built up of the local distribution network and distributed energy resources.
The system will initially be open to new generation customers connecting in the region. Existing customers will be invited to join in the future.
National Grid and UKPN developed the scheme as part of the Energy Network Association's open networks project - an industry initiative aiming to establish the future roles and responsibilities of network operators. The knowledge gained from its implementation will be shared with other networks.
Facilitating the transition to a smarter, more flexible system
Nick Easton, programme manager for the whole system project at National Grid, said: "We are committed to working with network operators to facilitate the transition to a smart, flexible electricity system. In doing so, we will be able to optimise planning, investment and operational processes across the whole electricity system.”
He added: "As well as benefiting customers, this work is going to provide more capacity for renewable energy in a constrained area. For the first time we will see the positive impact of what can be achieved when network operators work with the system operator to make things better for our customers, and this will set the scene for what we can achieve in future."