New £18m five-year smart grid project a hit in Shetland

Shetland’s new five-year smart grid integration project has been dubbed a success by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).

The £18m Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) project, which incorporated a local energy system using large scale storage and new forms of network management, combined domestic demand side management (DSM) with a 1MW battery at Shetland’s main power supply, Lerwick Power Station, and new monitoring and control systems to form an advanced Active Network Management (ANM) system.

The ANM was then used to manage five renewable energy schemes connected to the distribution electricity network. According to SSEN, by using this smart technology to manage how and when the energy is used, while maintaining system reliability and safety, more than 8.545MW of new renewable energy has been connected on Shetland.

This represents a trebling of renewable energy capacity, which is being stored in the Lerwick battery at times of low demand, along with capacity from new storage heaters and hot water tanks installed by Shetland based Hjaltland Housing Association. This was managed by the ANM to be used at a time when it was needed to supply people with electricity or heat.

The combination of these technologies has resulted in the daily average of renewable generation on Shetland reaching 30 per cent of energy requirements, while a 10 per cent reduction the the diesel used at the power station has also been recorded.

Stewart Reid, head of asset management and innovation at SSEN, believes that by creating flexible demand on the islands, through the use of smart technology and energy storage, the company have made progress in exploiting and maximising Shetland’s renewable generation potential and reducing the generated output from thermal power stations.

“This was an important achievement as it will inform the transition to a low carbon economy. It also offered us the opportunity to trial the technology in an environment which could then be applied to the wider-GB electricity network,” he said.

“NINES demonstrated that it was possible to fully integrate domestic properties with an ANM system and allow appliances and heating systems in the home to play their part in meeting the challenges of de-carbonising the UK’s energy systems.

“In Shetland this participation has not only served to reduce peak demand on Shetland, it has also allowed a higher utilisation of renewable energy. There is significant roll out potential in the UK with over 2.2 million homes currently using electrical heating systems, which could adopt similar technology.”

The NINES project proved more successful in gaining benefit from domestic assets than other recent projects, such as WPD’s Sunshine Tariff trial which tested the ability of time of use (ToU) tariffs to promote domestic demand side response. It concluded that the practicalities of using such a tariff meant it wasn’t “feasible under market conditions”.

Thanks to the learnings gained from NINES, new ANMs are being rolled out elsewhere to help the transition towards low carbon networks and realise smart grids.

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