After a hugely successful stakeholder event in Birmingham, Charlotte Grant, the Technical Project Manager for SMART Frequency Control (SFC), explains why this ground-breaking project means engaging with the industry is becoming increasingly important.
The smart way to share innovation
“When you’re developing inspiring new innovations, you become really passionate about them. You want to share what you learn far and wide.”
Charlotte Grant, Technical Project Manager.
The project is expected to save customers and stakeholders £200m every year.
Source: National Grid.
Innovation and engagement are guiding principles in how we do business at National Grid. And they take centre stage on our game-changing SFC project.
Under its original name, Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC), the project was awarded £5.8m through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC) at the start of last year.
It aims to investigate how newer technologies, such as wind farms, solar PV and demand-side response (DSR), can play a larger part in maintaining system frequency – the delicate balance between supply and demand that we’re duty bound to manage.
New generation technologies are required in a modern decarbonised world and our project will enable their participation, without imposing increased risk on the security of the system. By achieving this, we hope to save our customers an estimated £200m a year.
When you’re developing inspiring new innovations, you become really passionate about them. You want to share what you learn far and wide. It’s important to the whole project team that we not only do this work, but we put industry stakeholders at the heart of it, regularly passing on what we learn and inviting them to share their feedback with us.
We have an obligation to do this as part of the NIC funding, but our commitment goes deeper than that.
Ultimately, it’s energy consumers who are paying for SFC (through the contributions they make to energy companies and, in turn, Ofgem), so we need to ensure they get the best value from the project. That means having open discussions with stakeholders, and listening and acting on feedback. It’s also vital we keep other network licensees informed, so they get maximum value from the work we’re doing and don’t have to replicate any of it.
Our commitment to putting stakeholders at the heart of SFC was in evidence at a recent dissemination event in Birmingham. We put in a huge amount of work beforehand to communicate the event and its purpose to a broad range of stakeholders. It paid dividends too, with some 145 people coming along to listen to the latest breakthroughs in the project and to feed in their views.
Among the industry stakeholders in the audience were Distribution Network Owners (DNOs), generators, financiers, developers and consultants. That’s a lot of expertise and experience under one roof – and we were keen to unlock all that value. We encouraged two-way communication across the whole day and all the information we gathered will be fed back into the project to see if we need to do anything differently.
Members of our team – along with external project partners and guest speakers – shared what they’d learned so far and the event was a huge success. Our project team went above and beyond the requirements from Ofgem and stakeholders told us they understood the project much better and really welcomed the opportunity to engage with us.
We’ll continue to share our learnings throughout the project’s journey and keep on listening and acting on what our stakeholders tell us.
The project itself has been running for 12 months. While it’s relatively early days, we are beginning to see some tangible results.
Our main focus is on the development of a monitoring and control system. This will form the backbone of a new mechanism that will reduce delays in conventional frequency response and take advantage of the potential of newer, renewable technologies. It will develop better co-ordination between a more diverse spread of frequency response providers, making for a more flexible and cost-effective frequency response market.
We’ve also made good progress in terms of our event algorithms – in other words, the set of rules that the system will follow to detect frequency events and determine the appropriate response.
We’re getting to the stage now where we’re planning to put those algorithms into production. So we’re effectively placing orders for equipment which will then be used in trials as we move into next year.
The project is evolving all the time and we’re on an exciting pathway to developing the future of fast frequency response. By engaging stakeholders at every step – just as we did at our fantastic event in Birmingham – we’ll ensure the project delivers decisions and outcomes that give the best value and provide the best solutions for all our customers.
To find out more about how we’re building a frequency response mechanism for the future, click here.
SFC in numbers:
- £200m – the amount the project is expected to save customers and stakeholders every year
- £5.8m – amount awarded by Ofgem to deliver the project
- £8.5m – total value of the project
- 6 – the number of external project partners we’re working with
- 50Hz – normal operating frequency of the UK electricity system.