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National Grid leads UK frequency control project

Six energy companies and two universities are working with Britain’s system operator National Grid to help find new ways to stabilize the country’s transmission system as the nation’s energy becomes greener and fossil fuels are phased out.

News of the collaboration comes a week after the UK was powered without coal for a record three days in a row, instead using power generated from gas, nuclear, wind and solar.

National Grid has found that as more renewable sources come into the system and larger, inertia-rich, generators such as coal-fired power stations drop out, maintaining the system frequency response at 50 Hz ” a license requirement – has become more challenging. à‚ 

The companies involved in the Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC) project are UK demand response based aggregator Flexitricity, solar firm Belectric, Centrica, Orsted, Siemens, GE Grid Solutions, and the universities of Manchester and Strathclyde.

The project recently developed a new monitoring and control system to manage an increasingly green grid.à‚ This new system will help maintain system stability during peaks in supply and demand, drive savings for consumers.

Earlier this month the project was shortlisted at the British Renewable Energy Awards on behalf of National Grid for a company that has developed an outstanding project.

Belectricà‚ will provide response from its PV plants and storage facilities. It will contribute knowledge and practical solutions to realise the project’s goals concerning battery- and PV-based frequency regulation, virtual inertia, and collaboration of different response providers.

Centrica will play a dual role in the project, providing response from both large-scale generation at Langage and South Humber Bank combined cycle gas turbines and Lincs and Lynn or Inner Dowsing windfarms.

Orsted and Siemens are concentrating on wind turbine trials to demonstrate the capability of a wind farm to provide fast, initiated frequency response and the associated costs of doing so.à‚ 

Flexitricity has recruited customers from industrial and commercial sectors for a demand side response trial as part of the project, which will also call upon other industry players and academics to explore new ways to stabilize the transmission system as energy becomes greener,

The long-term project will assist with the development of new commercial services for rapid frequency response – the first level of back-up for dealing with differences in supply and demand – across the energy market.

Flexitricity founder and chief strategy officer Alastair Martinà‚ said: “With energy becoming increasingly decentralized and greener, it is crucial that industry players work together to help the grid evolve as we shape the future of UK energy. The new landscape brings with it a range of opportunities for energy users to fully maximize their assets to not only generate revenue, but contribute to the creation of a more flexible, secure and fairer system.”

Lilian Macleod, EFCC Project Manager from National Grid, added: “The EFCC project will provide greater visibility of the grid system performance by using real time data. By working together with industry partners we can lead the transition to a new energy future. Not only will this help to deliver greater value to consumers by running the system more efficiently, it will also evolve and future proof the grid.”

GE Power: “Through the EFCC project, we are demonstrating a flexible approach to rapid frequency response so that a wide range of diverse technologies can participate in managing the frequency.

“The control system combines the responses to provide the grid with a fast and highly stable frequency control response. Applying our knowledge of system stability and experience with wide area control technology, we have been able to work with the EFCC consortium to demonstrate a control approach that can derive value from the various diverse technologies represented.”