Posted: 4 June 2015
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Pulse of the nation

How does power flow through the UK over a 24-hour period? A new National Grid video tells the story.

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Pulse of the nation

Pulse of the nation

National Grid's Electricity Transmission Control Centre.

“The idea sprang from having seen a similar animation produced for the UK’s air traffic control organisation depicting the flow of airliner traffic over the UK.”

Mike Coldwell, Engineer.

Insight:

Wokingham-based Engineers Mike Coldwell and Ronan Jamieson are the brains behind the videos.

Source: National Grid.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture must equal a small book – and a new video formulated by two National Grid staff pretty much lives up to that description.

‘Pulse of the Nation’ is a visualisation of how power flows throughout the UK over a 24-hour period. Two versions have been produced to show the variation in the system across different days.

Spring_video

Click on the image above to watch the Pulse of the Nation winter video.

One shows the UK’s electricity supply operating on the winter’s day that produced the highest demand for power in several years, the second shows the effects of a particularly windy spring day.

Different colours reflect the changing power levels, with red representing typical flows, yellow emphasising higher flows and white being the very highest.

Wokingham-based Engineers Mike Coldwell and Ronan Jamieson are the brains behind the videos.

“The idea sprang from having seen a similar animation produced for the UK’s air traffic control organisation depicting the flow of airliner traffic over the UK,” said Mike.

“We thought: ‘Could we do something similar, showing where power is flowing over our lines.’ We got in touch with the same video company and said, ‘Here’s our data, what does it look like and what can we show with it?’

Winter_video

Click on the image above to watch the Pulse of the Nation spring video.

“There were two drivers behind the idea. The first was internal. We wanted to see what the data looked like, and if it was part of the information we give our control engineers, whether it would give them a better overview of the network.

“The second driver was that we realised that this could be a really good tool externally, showing people what happens on the network, what it looks like and where the power flows are going.”

This was particularly evident in the spring video, which shows strong wind-generated power flows coming out of Scotland. The videos also show the power flows on the interconnectors between the UK and Europe changing direction as demand fluctuates in different countries.

Looking ahead to FES 2018