Open those SmartValves: National Grid ET trials power-flow-routing app, in quest of extra 1.5GW


Britain’s core transmission operator is seeking to liberate an extra 1.5GW of capacity, using software to by-pass choke points, avoiding big outlays on location-specific upgrades.

National Grid Electricity Transmission is trialling advanced power routing software from US supplier SmartWires over five years at three substations in northern England.

Switches near Preston, Carlisle and Stockton-on-Tees have been selected for the pilot of SmartValve. Across a planned five circuits, the product’s algorithms seek out under-loaded circuits, enabling renewables to be integrated more easily onto contested local grids.  National Grid summarises the US product’s capability as “pushing power off overloaded lines, or pulling power on to underused lines”.

One of the sites may be further upgraded this autumn, freeing up a further projected 500MW.

Produced in Silicon Valley, California, the SmartValve software is already under DNO trial by UKPN, as part of its Loadshare programme.  But NG-ESO claims its own latest trial is a world’s first deployment of the technology on a comparable scale.

National Grid chief engineer David Wright said, “I’m proud to see NGET leading the way in pioneering transformational and innovative engineering, to achieve wide-scale decarbonisation and overcome bottlenecks that are preventing maximum use of our networks”.

Two years ago National Grid ET unveiled plans to invest £7.4bn by 2026 on bringing the UK’s backbone up to RIIO-T2 transmission standards.

Electricity North West is DNO to two of the locations covered by the backbone operator’s trial. Last month it announced it will spend  £2bn by 2028 to upgrade its own infrastructure.

More on NG-ET’s SmartValve trial here.


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