Smart Wires Inc.

National Grid: Northern England projects

Project overview

The UK has seen significant growth in renewable energy in recent years, which has led to rising levels of network congestion in England as power flows towards large demand centers in the South. National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) needed a solution that could quickly and cost-efficiently resolve bottlenecks on key boundaries. After extensive analysis under the UK’s Network Options Assessment (NOA) process, advanced power flow control (APFC) was recommended as the optimal solution to resolve the identified network congestion across three key boundaries, B6, B7, and B7a in 2020/2021. Alternate options evaluated included other power flow control solutions such as Phase-Shifting Transformers and network reinforcements such as reconductoring overhead lines and transformer replacements.

The first set of projects used APFC—SmartValve™—at three substations to balance power flows across five circuits, unlocking 1.5 GW of transmission capacity for renewable energy and providing a quickly deployable, flexible, scalable solution that could be easily expanded as the network needs evolve over time. 

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In 2022/2023, two of the deployments were expanded with additional SmartValves to meet an increased need for power flow control following the closure of a nearby power station, unlocking an additional 500 MW of capacity. 

Following this success, NGET has included advanced power flow control in many network options as part of their grid development process and the NOA for future years.

Project images

The benefits

Unlocks over 2 GW of capacity across multiple boundaries

Delivers £400 million savings for UK consumers over a 7 year period

Minimizes disruption to local communities and the environment

Provides operational flexibility

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Northern England projects: Unlocking boundary capacity to accelerate renewable integration

Download NGET Case Study