Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network (LCN) Fund is being invested to help Britain’s current electricity distribution network support faster and more cost effective distributed generation connections.
2013 is a key year for Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network funded “Second Tier” flagship projects. UK Power Networks has three Second Tier projects in its portfolio, totalling £41.2 million from the fund; the projects are Low Carbon London, that will explore how to combine new technology and commercial innovation such as localised generation, electric vehicles, heat pumps, smart meters, dynamic time of use tariffs and responsive demand services; Flexible Plug and Play, that aims to find faster and cheaper ways of connecting distributed generation to the network, and most recently Smarter Network Storage, that will explore if electricity storage is a viable option compared to traditional network reinforcement.
Flexible Plug and Play aims to find faster and cheaper ways of connecting distributed generation to the network. The project isn’t simply focused on the technical solutions - there are also key stakeholders who need to be engaged in order to find the right commercial arrangements for distributed generators to sign up to with the assurance that they are going to meet their return on investment criteria that caters for interruptible energy generation.
The IET Energy Sector is the Flexible Plug and Play project partner for knowledge dissemination, which is a key aim of the LCN Fund, ensuring learning is shared amongst all DNOs. We are therefore keen to provide our readers with an update on the project and an insight into what is coming for the year.
This update will provide you with a key insight into how UK Power Networks is moving forward with their distributed generators on a commercial basis. In future newsletters, we will provide further updates on the project, including the deployment of a “Quadrature Booster” - a mature technology currently used on the transmission network, but will be trialled for the first time on the 33kV distribution network. The Quadrature Booster will be used to control active power flow on parallel lines. We will also provide updates on the implementation of an Active Network Management system that will be used to control distributed generators in accordance with the smart commercial arrangements developed by the project.
Flexible Plug and Play is a £9.7 million project, with £6.7 million coming from Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund. The remaining £3 million has been contributed by UK Power Networks and the project partners. The project aims to enable faster and cheaper distributed generation connections to the electricity network amid the Cambridgeshire communities of Peterborough, March and Wisbech, a trial area of some 700km2. It’s an area which has seen a significant increase in wind generation connection requests in recent times.
Flexible Plug and Play is now a third of the way through its project lifecycle. In its first year, the project focused on stakeholder engagement and the development of the new commercial contracts for “non-firm” or so called “interruptible” connections. In recent years, the connections process for DNOs has evolved to accommodate high volumes of connection requests for distributed generation. Up until now, UK Power Networks has offered on a “firm” or “always available” connections, with limited rights to interrupt supply unless in extreme circumstances. The development of the new smart commercial arrangements will be an exciting milestone for the project and the industry.
The project also focused on the design of new technical solutions, raising the profile of the project and sharing knowledge and outcomes that were generated in year one.
2013 sees the project moving into its deployment phase. In March, UK Power Networks plans to offer six renewable generators a ‘Flexible Plug and Play’ non-firm connection offer. ‘Flexible’ as we offer ‘flexible’ connection offers and ‘plug and play’ as the project will trial smart technologies and systems to ‘plug’ and ‘play’ straight into the existing network, helping to facilitate more distributed generation connections.
Also in March, a new telecommunications platform will go live. This new platform uses IP-based communications technology and the IEC 61850 data protocol to enable interoperability, which will allow new smart technologies and systems to work with each other across the project trial area.
In June, UK Power Networks will install the Quadrature Booster.
In order for the project to demonstrate the benefits it can deliver, it is paramount that both the technical solutions and commercial framework being developed are adopted by the customer – in this case, the distribution generation developer.
The project team has proactively and formally engaged with seven distribution generation developers seeking electricity connections in the Flexible Plug and Play trial area. These projects are seeking connections at constrained parts of the network in the trial area, as a result, their ‘conventional’ connection quotes include significant costs for provision of expensive sole-use assets. The Flexible Plug and Play project team has identified potential opportunities to offer cheaper and faster connections through actively managed non-firm connections for these seven customers.
Six of those distribution generation developers have currently accepted the Flexible Plug and Play proposal (total generating capacity of 26.2MW) and have been working with the project team over the last few months. The Flexible Plug and Play project has committed to issuing these six developers with connections offers outlining the Flexible Plug and Play connection offer proposal in March 2013.
UK Power Networks has recently published the ‘ Principles of Access ’ report, which details the smart commercial arrangements for generators connecting under the Flexible Plug and Play project. Using the research from the report, the project is developing a commercial framework suitable for offering distributed generation connections on constrained parts of the network on an interruptible basis. The project team has focused on exploring the different ‘principles of access’, using the principles of pro-rata curtailment, consisting of a number of different commercial options against a set of criteria.
Project partner, the University of Cambridge, also carried out extensive research to understand best practices around the world regarding interruptible connections for distributed wind generation. The report “ Experience of the use of smarter connection arrangements for distributed wind generation facilities ” was written by Karim L Anaya and Michael G Pollitt.
In order for the new smart technologies and devices to work, the project is installing a new telecommunications platform in the trial area. The detailed design and deployment of the communications infrastructure has been completed. The project is at the final stage of the testing phase and is on track for completion by the end of March 2013 as planned. The telecommunications platform will operate alongside UK Power Networks’ existing telecommunications platforms but is being trialled specifically for Flexible Plug and Play’s Active Network Management system and the new smart devices that the project will be deploying.
One of the focal smart devices is a 30MVA rated Quadrature Booster that is designed to overcome an existing constraint due to sub-optimal load sharing on 33kV parallel circuits at UK Power Networks’ Wessington substation. During the Flexible Plug and Play trial, the Quadrature Booster will monitor and control the network to balance load flows and create additional headroom capacity to accept increased CHP exports to the distribution network.
The project team has made significant progress on the detailed design of the overall installation on the Quadrature Booster. It was dispatched from Australia in January 2013 and will be delivered on site in March 2013. The installation will start after delivery and the Quadrature Booster is on target to be commissioned at the end of June 2013, in line with the agreed project milestone – the Successful Delivery Reward Criteria.
Finally, the Flexible Plug and Play team has completed the design of the Active Network Management system that will be used to control the output of the participating distribution generation developers and is currently testing the system in factory environment.
Flexible Plug and Play is working with a consortium of partners, who have all been chosen for their expertise and innovative culture.