The grid operator’s Blade project has been awarded over £495,000 to demonstrate how offshore wind farms can be used to restore the electricity grid in the event of a black start.
Advancing a task currently undertaken by fossil-fuelled sources, Blade aims to prove that offshore renewable generation can effectively and efficiently restart the grid and get power flowing back into UK homes, should part of a network fail completely.
It follows the operator’s work in the demonstration of black start services at Dersalloch windfarm in South Ayrshire. There the world’s first grid restart from onshore wind was achieved in 2020 in conjunction with ScottishPower Renewables.
Scott Mathieson, SP Energy Networks’ planning and regulation director explained: “These projects will allow us to continue innovating to deliver a smart and resilient grid that will help us achieve net zero.”
Eric Leavy of SP Energy Networks added: “As more renewable projects are delivered across the UK, we need to show how green electricity generation can perform all the roles that fossil fuel generation has traditionally held. Proving the concept of our Blade project will demonstrate how offshore renewables can and should be used to provide restoration services to the grid and we’re pleased to be able to take this project forward to the next phase.”
SP Energy Networks’ second project aims to show how capacity on its distribution network can be increased to make room for more low carbon technologies without the need for major investment and infrastructure changes.
In partnership with UKPN and Newcastle and Cardiff Universities, the D-Suite project assesses the feasibility of deploying new applications of High Voltage power-electronic technology onto the Low Voltage distribution network.
Using this technology, the capacity on the distribution network is expected to increase by between 20% and 40% without traditional reinforcement. Freed up capacity can then be used to support SP Energy Networks customers’ move to low carbon technologies.
The operator’s Iain Divers added, “The D-Suite project is vital to showing how we can free up space within the distribution network to allow our customers to adopt low carbon technologies like electric vehicles and heat pumps without having to undertake traditional reinforcement work. Proving the concept of this project will help our customers achieve their own Net Zero goals faster, all the while helping to keep down costs to the consumer.”