Posted: 24 November 2014
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£15 million boost for National Grid network projects
£15 million boost for National Grid network projects

National Grid has been awarded more than £15m through the Network Innovation Competition for two projects that will improve electricity and gas transmission networks.

The Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC) has the potential to save up to £200 million through low-carbon technologies.

“This project is a fantastic example of our continued commitment to innovation in gas transmission.”

Neil Pullen, Director of Gas Transmission at National Grid on the Gas robotic inspection project.

The competition provides funding for the development of new technologies that deliver environmental benefits, cost reductions and better security of supply as the UK moves towards a low-carbon economy.

The successful National Grid projects are as follows:

Gas robotic inspection project:

A project that will allow a robot to undertake the inspection of gas pipelines at high pressure has been awarded £5.7 million.

The new robot is being designed to travel through underground pipe work at pressures fifty-times higher than is possible with current techniques – that’s five times the maximum pressure that would be experienced underwater by a submarine.

As a result, National Grid will be able to accurately assess the condition of buried pipes, avoiding the need for complex, deep excavations. This will ensure that we only replace assets when absolutely necessary, saving around £58 million over twenty years.

Use of the robots could also reduce carbon dioxide by around 2,145 tonnes per year through avoiding unnecessary pipe replacements. These savings are equivalent to the carbon emissions from the energy consumption of about 477 UK households per year.

National Grid is running the project alongside two small-to-medium enterprises; Premtech, based in Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire, and Harrogate-based firm Synthotech. Newcastle-based company Pipeline Integrity Engineers will also be involved, in order to turn data from the robot into meaningful reports on the pipe work’s condition.

“This project is a fantastic example of our continued commitment to innovation in gas transmission,” said Neil Pullen, Director of Gas Transmission at National Grid.

“The funding will help us get this technology out of the lab and into use across the business, further increasing our knowledge of the condition of our underground pipes and allowing us to do a better job for our customers.”

Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC):

A project to test the capability of wind farms, solar PV, energy storage and demand-side measures to help control the frequency of the power system has been awarded £9.7 million.

National Grid’s licence obligations include a requirement to keep the frequency of the power system as close to 50.00Hz as possible. Currently, thermal power stations like gas and coal plants are used when swift action is required to maintain frequency.

This project will test the capability of low-carbon technologies to provide this rapid frequency response, with the potential to save up to £200 million.

This project will be run in partnership with Alstom, Centrica, Flexitricity, BElectric and the Universities of Manchester and Strathclyde.

“Traditionally, we’ve always looked to gas and coal-fired power stations to provide rapid frequency response,” said Richard. “With more low-carbon power coming on the system, it’s vital that we look at the potential for wind and solar to help us maintain frequency within the required levels.”

To find out more:

Click here for more on the Electricity Network Innovation Competition.

Click here for more on the Gas Network Innovation Competition.

Tamsin Kashap, National Grid’s Gas Transmission Innovation Manager, takes a look back at the history of innovation in the electricity and gas industry. Click here to read more.

Nine reasons to catch National Grid at Utility Week Live