UK trial of ‘renewables only’ network restart

31 May 2022

SP Energy Networks has led a successful trial to re-energise its electricity network by using what it says is pioneering technology to tap into renewable energy from wind turbines and hydro generation.

SP conducted the trial in Galloway, Scotland, as part of the second phase of a world-leading project, to show how the range of smaller energy sources could be used to restore power in the unlikely event of a total or partial shutdown of the national electricity transmission system.

Traditionally, wide scale system recovery in such a scenario has only been possible by utilising large fossil fuel power stations. However, the Distributed ReStart project – a partnership of SP Energy Networks, National Grid ESO and specialist energy consultancy TNEI, and funded by the regulator Ofgem – exploring the use of distributed energy sources such as solar, wind or hydro, to kickstart the energy system.

The most recent trial saw SP Energy Networks connect a hydro generator (at Kendoon) and power wind turbines across two small wind farms (at Glenchamber and North Rhins) to re-energise the network in an isolated test.

These trials are expected to pave the way for a radically different approach to system restoration, using renewables to help to reduce costs and help the drive towards net zero emissions targets.

Scott Mathieson, Network Planning and Regulation director at SP Energy Networks, commented: “The increasingly complex needs of our energy system, coupled with the significant increase in [the] demand for green electricity and generation our networks need to accommodate, means it is crucial we ensure its continued security and resilience. We are really encouraged by the success of this latest trial on the Distributed ReStart project, which could be vitally important, not just in Scotland and the UK, but worldwide.”

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