SSEN innovation allows flexible generation to continue to generate and export during a fault

  • Another GB first for SSEN as it successfully maintains export access to its flexible generation customers during a fault
  • Significant milestone in SSEN’s transition to a DSO

The energy industry continues to go through a period of rapid transformation, from the huge growth in renewable electricity generation to the new, exciting move to local flexible grids that will unlock the value of maturing technologies such as electric vehicles, micro generation and battery storage.

To facilitate the shift to a smarter, flexible energy system, SSEN is transitioning from a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to a Distribution System Operator (DSO) and in its ‘Supporting a Smart Electricity System’ report it set out the five principles that will underpin its transition.  These are:

  1. SSEN’s DSO must work for all customers
  2. Learning by doing will give the best outcomes for customers
  3. SSEN’s transition to DSO must be coordinated and cost efficient
  4. Neutral facilitation is paramount
  5. SSEN’s DSO should unlock local solutions

Following a recent fault that occurred on SSEN’s Orkney network, which is home to the world’s first Active Network Management (ANM) scheme, SSEN put into practice its ‘learning by doing’ principle, successfully maintaining export access to its flexible generation customers to allow Orkney’s ANM renewable generators to continue to generate, helping to maintain the operation of the network despite the network fault. 

Typically, flexible connections are set to turn any exporting generation ‘off’ during a fault situation to protect the integrity of the electricity system.  However, in this instance SSEN successfully utilised its ANM system to allow generation to continue at a restricted level. This ground-breaking solution, the first time this solution has been deployed across GB, allowed SSEN’s 23 ANM customers to continue to export during the fault situation.

This marks a significant step for SSEN in its transition from a historic Distribution Network Operator to a Distribution System Operator as it demonstrates SSEN’s ability to actively manage its network in real-time.  By removing traditional network-related barriers, SSEN’s innovative solution will allow its flexible generation customers to continue to export their generation capacity during fault situations, enabling greater levels of renewable generation output. 

SSEN is now actively exploring the potential to roll out similar functionality across all its ANM schemes.

Stewart Reid, SSEN’s Head of DSO and Innovation, said:

“This marks a significant step for us in our transition to a Distribution System Operator as we continue to learn from trials and innovative approaches to help solve traditional network challenges.

“We have proven our ability to go beyond the traditional DNO response to a fault, allowing generators to continue exporting even when the network is experiencing a fault.

“We now look forward to further exploring this innovation across all our ANM schemes which has the potential to provide significant benefits to our flexible generation customers by reducing traditional grid constraints during network faults.”

As the Orkney electricity distribution network is at full capacity, no new generation can connect without significant network reinforcement.  To try and unlock Orkney’s renewable potential, SSEN’s transmission business is taking forward proposals to develop a transmission connection from Orkney to the GB mainland which would allow another 220MW of generation to connect, subject to regulatory approval and developer commitment.   

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.7 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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