SSEN’s Project MERLIN charms the UK Government and receives up to £1.8m of funding

In an industry-first Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is seeking to employ Power System Economics in the UK, building on tools developed in North America.

Project Modelling the Economic Reaction Linking Individual Networks (MERLIN) seeks to solve the problem of managing the variable value of services in a smarter energy system, and has received funding from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Power Forward Challenge.

The Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) that serve the UK’s households, businesses and communities are changing to Distribution System Operators (DSO). The increase in low-carbon, smart and flexible technologies is unlocking new opportunities and markets which will be neutrally facilitated by the UK’s DSOs. SSEN is acting to accommodate the increased demand on the electricity system, and support and secure the transition to a smarter network.

Project MERLIN seeks to develop a greater understanding of how power systems respond to price signals, and variable services, to provide clearer investment signals into the UK energy market.

Traditionally, Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have used the physics-based ‘Power Systems Analysis’ to assess a power system’s response to events in transient, dynamic and static time scales. However, to deliver a sustainable smart grid for consumers, understanding the effect economics has on the physics, and how the physics constrains or facilitates the economics, will become critical - this is known as ‘Power System Economics’.

Alongside SSEN, MERLIN’s project partners bring a wealth of experience: 


  • Opus One Solutions – Power System Analyses and Economics
  • Open Grid Systems – Data Management and Integration
  • University of Cambridge – Economic Fundamentals and Policy
  • Hydro Ottawa – International Dissemination

MERLIN will run concurrently with the Oxfordshire DSO demonstrator projects, that seek to replicate the energy system of the future and its impact on the distribution network. This approach minimises duplication and maximises the learning gained through both projects.

MERLIN will deploy Open Grid Systems’ Cimphony Concert platform and Opus One Solutions’ GridOS platforms on an SSEN owned distribution network in Oxfordshire, with knowledge sharing links with an unfunded sister project in Canada delivered by Hydro Ottawa, underpinned and guided by the academic rigor of University of Cambridge.  

Stewart Reid, Head of Future Networks, said: “Project MERLIN is scalable and entirely interoperable. We are entering an incredibly exciting time for UK electricity networks and there are a range of projects undergoing that will help us understand how we deliver the system of the future. 

“SSEN is committed to ‘learning by doing’ and so the news that Project MERLIN has received funding is fantastic, and I look forward to seeing the contribution it makes to the industries understanding of how power systems can respond to the price signals in a DSO world.”

MERLIN is a full spectrum “integrated solution” that efficiently and optimally connects Investment Planning with the various other DSO functions as defined by the GB based ENA Open Networks Project.  The solution is both novel and highly replicable across the UK energy system, bringing together UK and Canadian innovators to deliver a cutting edge, future-proofed end-to-end solution that manages distributed energy resources effectively integrated with the distribution system.