Northern Powergrid, the electricity distribution network operator for the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom, is to pilot a pioneering technology innovation that will maintain power supplies to critical infrastructure and isolated communities, futureproofing the network for a rapidly changing energy landscape.
The £2.5m first-of-its-kind smart-grid program, known as "Microresilience," uses energy storage systems and innovative communications technology. It’s being piloted at two key locations – Newcastle’s historic Swing Bridge, and the remote forest village of Byrness, Northumberland – each chosen for the unique challenges they present to the resilience of the energy network.
As the UK and Northern Powergrid’s region decarbonize in the push to reach net zero, customers will become increasingly dependent on electricity to power their lives. Protecting people’s power is more vital than ever, but electricity networks are under increasing threat from extreme weather events and cyber-attacks. In June this year, the UK Climate Change Committee highlighted protecting the power system from climate-related failure as an urgent priority. And think-tank Institut Français des Relations Internationales identified the power sector as a prime target for cyber-criminals, with both the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity and the UK electricity system’s administrator Elexon coming under attack in 2020.
Resilience against these threats is at the heart of Northern Powergrid’s future – protecting communities and assets, bettering safety standards, and maintaining the reliability and availability of the network. That’s the big picture. Microresilience zooms in to meet unique local needs, delivering bespoke technology solutions that protect and increase the resilience of individual ‘micro’ areas of the network.
Iain Miller, Head of Innovation at Northern Powergrid, said: “We work constantly to find innovative ways to improve our network and protect our customers from a power cut. This Microresilience project offers a blueprint to deliver the most reliable, affordable, and sustainable power possible for the parts of our network that need it the most."