Smart Wires Inc.

National Grid and Smart Wires aim to reduce grid bottlenecks through development of innovative software tools

May 2, 2024

National Grid is working with Smart Wires on an innovation project to make better use of grid enhancing technologies like advanced power flow controllers, with the goal of reducing network congestion and maximising the potential of existing infrastructure.

The Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)-funded project aims to develop a tool to coordinate the installation and operation of advanced power flow control (APFC) devices like Smart Wires’ SmartValve™, to avoid network constraints and boost the amount of clean energy flowing.


As electricity generation and demand decarbonises, the way power flows across the network is becoming more complex to manage, with transmission circuits easily becoming unequally loaded and less efficient at carrying energy.

Technologies like APFCs can help resolve bottlenecks, intelligently pushing and pulling power across circuits in real-time and routing it to where capacity is available, freeing up electricity flow.

The innovation project’s aim is for the new tool to help coordinate the dispatch of existing APFCs on the network, while identifying the best locations for additional grid enhancing technologies – including dynamic line rating (DLR) – to be installed in the future.

Following an innovation project in 2019 to investigate the benefits of power flow controllers, National Grid installed SmartValves at three substations in northern England – Harker, Penwortham and Saltholme – to operate across five circuits, with a further installation in planning at South Shields.

Around £390 million is estimated to be saved over a seven-year period due to reduced constraint costs and avoided expenditure on new infrastructure build, with over 2GW of north-south power flow capacity being unlocked.

Gary Stockdale, net zero innovation manager at National Grid Electricity Transmission, said:

“This project will give us better insight to fully exploit the potential of grid enhancing technologies on our network, and boost the volume of clean power our circuits can carry around the country.

“Having already rolled out Smart Wires devices at several of our substations, we’re pleased to be continuing our partnership with them to explore innovative ways to make best use of the technology for the benefit of consumers.”

Hêdd Roberts, General Manager for Europe and APAC at Smart Wires, said:

“Our collaboration with National Grid on this new software-based project will optimise the deployment of grid enhancing technologies, paving the way for a more efficient and sustainable grid in the UK and abroad.”

National Grid is also currently trialling DLR technology from LineVision on its network on a circuit between Penwortham and Kirkby, with line sensors and weather data analytics helping to increase the power-carrying limit of the line and potentially save consumers millions.

Ofgem’s NIA provides an allowance to energy network licensees to fund innovation projects that have the potential to deliver longer term financial and environmental benefits for consumers.

About National Grid in the UK

National Grid sits at the heart of Britain’s energy system. The individual companies in our group run the networks and infrastructure that connect millions of people to the electricity they use every day.

Our regulated businesses own and develop the high voltage electricity transmission (ET) network in England and Wales, and the electricity distribution (ED) network in the Midlands, South West England and South Wales. The electricity system operator (ESO) is the legally separate (and in the process of becoming fully independent) arm of our group which manages supply and demand on Britain’s electricity transmission networks. Operating separately from these core regulated units, National Grid Ventures (NGV) focusses on competitive markets, investing in energy projects, technologies and partnerships such as electricity interconnectors.

We bring energy to life, with an ambition to serve our customers well, support the communities in which we operate, and make possible a clean, affordable and resilient energy network of the future.

Facts about our networks in England and Wales

  • Our transmission network takes electricity generated from different power sources and carries it at high voltage via our 4,500 miles of overhead line, 1,500 miles of underground cable and 350 substations.
  • Our distribution network delivers electricity at lower voltage from our transmission network to where it’s needed in the regions we serve, via 60,000 miles of overhead line and 83,900 miles of underground cable.

Find out more on our website about the difference between our networks.

About Smart Wires

Smart Wires is the world’s leading grid enhancing technology and services provider. We help electric utilities to unlock capacity and solve their critical grid issues, using our solutions to create a more flexible, reliable and affordable grid. This enables a faster, more cost-efficient path to meet growing electricity demand with clean energy generation, at lowest cost to consumers. Headquartered in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, Smart Wires has a global workforce of passionate and visionary industry-leading experts spread across four continents, who work every day to transform grids globally.  In collaboration with our customers and partners, we’ve unlocked over 3.5 Gigawatts capacity—enough to power over 2.5 million homes—supporting the faster integration of clean energy and new demand, enhancing security of supply and delivering cost savings to consumers.  

Together, we are reimagining the grid for net zero.

For press related purposes, please contact us at

Dive deeper into related content

Explore our products and services

Talk to our experts

Talk to our experts