Artificial intelligence has made its operational debut on a British electricity grid.

Distributed switches & cables managers SP Energy Networks are claiming a UK first with their Predict4Resilience initiative, designed to anticipate and correct potential faults before they occur.

The revolutionary supply-preserving £5 million venture will spot ‘over-the-horizon’ snares as much as seven days in advance, allowing the DNO to mobilise kit and technicians to minimise black- and brown-outs.

Machine learning provided by data science consultants Sia Partners is the knitting that links together historic data on weather and faults, asset performance, and even landscapes information.

Combined with real-time weather forecasting, Predict4Resilience will inform SP Energy Networks’ control room with unprecedented accuracy about where the weather will hit and what damage it’s expected to cause.

As the climate catastrophe deepens, power companies are looking to widen research partnerships, to avoid mayhem caused by increasingly frequent events such as last week’s Storm Ciaran.  Glasgow University’s schools of maths & statistics is a third partner in Predict4Resilience.

A fourth is Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Distribution. It will use the findings to test a different regulatory area, testing the project’s applicability to a wider network.

SP Energy Networks’ chief operating officer Guy Jefferson said: “We know the disruption severe weather can bring to our customers. We constantly investigate new technologies that could be used to keep this disruption to a minimum“.

£4.5million from the Strategic Innovation Fund jointly run by Ofgem and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) underpins Predict4Resilience, in line with the fund’s remit to accelerate power-shifters’ transition to Net Zero.

SP Energy Networks runs transmission & distribution switches & cables including 30,000 substations serving over 6 million customers across 3.5m homes and businesses throughout central & southern Scotland, as far south as Shropshire, Merseyside and mid-Wales.  The combine budgets £7 billion in the current RIIO-round for network upgrades.

For the AI consultants, head of data science Sebastien Gerber said: “Sia Partners will continue its work from the previous phase of the project where it led the development of the solution prototype and built the supporting business case to secure further funding from Ofgem.



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