- Innovation project proves that it is possible to continuously measure grid stability – or inertia – which is increasingly important as renewable generation becomes a larger proportion of the energy mix
- Major breakthrough as until now inertia could only be estimated by grid operators at discrete time points
- Continued, accurate and real-time monitoring of inertia lets grid operators respond more quickly to variations in supply and demand, offering the possibility of reducing costs and customer energy bills
- Important innovation that can help grid operators globally safely integrate renewable generation and meet ambitious climate change targets while maintaining security of supply.
London, 03 October, 2017: Reactive Technologies and the UK’s National Grid today announce the successful completion of Project SIM which, for the first time ever, continuously measured and monitored grid stability – or system inertia – across an entire energy network. Until now, there was no known way to take a continuous direct measurement of grid stability (inertia), so it has always been estimated. Grid operators use these estimates, which have an unknown error margin in them, for trading renewable and fossil fuel energy, setting multi-year budgets for energy reserve services and long-term investments in grid infrastructure. This technology development is expected to have a considerable impact on the way grid operators around the world manage their systems, potentially reducing costs for both them and for end customers and reducing carbon emissions.
As the global energy sector transitions from carbon intensive fossil fuel generation to renewable energy, new challenges arise for grid operators integrating large amounts of intermittent generation (solar, wind etc), while maintaining security of supply. Renewable generators do not have the same stabilising properties for the grid as conventional fossil fuel power plants, which store energy in their high-mass rotating equipment, such as steam turbines and gas engines. This stored energy is inertia and helps the grid to absorb sudden changes to it. Increasing the share of renewable energy will lead to decreased inertia levels, making the grid more volatile.
If no action were taken, a decrease in system inertia would lead to growing costs of procuring energy reserve services and investing in grid reinforcement and, potentially, trips or outages. Today, Reactive and National Grid have proven that there is a way to tackle this problem using Reactive Technologies’ GridMetrix solution. By gaining real-time visibility of inertia on their systems, grid operators can embrace decarbonisation and decentralisation with confidence by being able to respond to grid destabilisation events faster and more cost-effectively.
For National Grid and other transmission system operators (TSOs), being able to measure inertia continuously will provide their control room operators with the real-time information that would allow them to react much faster to changes in their grids and ensure the necessary actions are taken to re-balance the system. In addition, accurate inertia data can support more informed network re-enforcement decisions, optimal procurement of energy reserve services, and the ability to safely integrate large amounts of renewable generation. The results of this project may lead to TSO cost savings, which will ultimately lead to a reduction in customer energy bills.
National Grid believes this new means of measurement is an important step in the transition to the new energy landscape. Duncan Burt, Acting Director of System Operations at National Grid says: “National Grid is proud to be at the forefront of the energy revolution as we enable the uptake of renewable generation, and deliver value for our customers and consumers. Being part of this innovative project to continuously measure inertia will improve our understanding of how to monitor grid stability in a changing energy environment.”
Marc Borrett, CEO at Reactive Technologies, comments; “Grid operators around the world are under pressure to bring new technologies into the control room that allow them to meet their obligations on energy costs, security of supply and decarbonisation. With GridMetrix, we’re giving grid operators access to unique direct data measurements from a national level right down to a granular post code level, so they can operate more leanly and better manage the nation’s supply and demand in line with accurate, real-time information.”
Steven Jennings, Power and Utilities Sector Lead UK, PWC, comments; “This innovation represents a significant technological step change for the industry. It will enable grid operators here in the UK, as well as globally, to manage their systems and respond to destabilisation events in a totally new way by empowering them with real-time, unique data insights.”
Project SIM was funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance and used Reactive Technologies’ GridMetrix solution. The project built on another world first in which Reactive used its novel telecoms technology Grid Data Measurement System (GDMS) to successfully transmit data through the entire National Grid network, making it behave as a communications channel to collect and broadcast signals to receiver devices over long distances. Project SIM sought to explore how Reactive’s technology could be used to accurately measure inertia. The project conclusively proved it could actively measure inertia round the clock for the whole Great Britain Grid.