A consortium led by consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff is to carry out a detailed analysis of how smart technology and renewables will be incorporated in Britain’s future electricity transmission and distribution network.
The group, including the University of Manchester, PPA Energy, Chiltern Power and Grid Scientific, has been awarded a contract to carry out the study on behalf of the Energy Networks Association, which represents transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland.
Results due to be published in late summer 2015 will look at how network design and operation should develop between now and 2030 to maximise the benefits of new ‘smart technologies’ and of accommodating the growing number of low-carbon connections, including small-scale renewable technology.
Commercial and regulatory structures will also be scrutinised. Building on earlier work commissioned by the Smart Grid Forum, a key aim is to establish whether the roles and responsibilities of the parties that own, operate and interface with the electricity supply chain need to change, and how.
The plan will be based on detailed technical modelling and analysis of four representative network configurations: a typical rural network, an urban network, and two forms of interconnected networks, one supplying a town with suburbs and the other supplying an area within a major city.
ENA chief executive David Smith believes the new technologies that will help distribution networks adapt as the UK moves towards a sustainable energy future will also pose new challenges for network companies, regulators and other stakeholders.
“The work, which will be undertaken by Parsons Brinckerhoff, will make an important contribution to understanding what those challenges are likely to be, and how we can overcome them in the years ahead,” he said.