Power Potential

Power Potential is a ground-breaking collaboration between National Grid ESO (NGESO), UK Power Networks and generators on the south coast distribution network. Through the Power Potential project, we have demonstrated a world-first regional reactive power market in a live system trial. We have also verified the principles of a transmission and a distribution system operator enabling Distributed Energy Resources (DER) on the distribution network to deliver dynamic voltage control for transmission constraints. Crucially this has been integrated with operational systems, rather than merely being a proof-of-concept.  The expansion of Power Potential as a dynamic service as trialled, could save energy consumers over £96m by 2050 when rolled out to 19 (out of 36) transmission voltage zones within Great Britain. However, all transmission zones have some dynamic requirement. If the solution were being replicated to more regions, the total benefits could be even higher.

Power Potential Project is now completed and we wish to thank everyone involved to make this a successful project.

Throughout Great Britain, distribution power networks have been experiencing increased levels of renewable generation such as wind and solar, etc. As this trend continues to increase, more coordination between the Great Britain (GB) System Operator and distribution network operators (DNOs) is needed. This will increase system flexibility by using more DER capabilities and provide network support at a distribution and transmission level.

The three-year study is based in the South East region of the UK, where the connection of distributed energy resources is growing rapidly. Given the region’s location there is also high interconnection with continental Europe with HVDC links of 2GW, increasing to 5GW with future projects.  

Understand the Power Potential project in 2 minutes

Duncan Burt, Director of Operations, National Grid ESO explains the project in more detail

The Power Potential project is an exciting opportunity for Innogy to further utilise existing resources to better support balancing the local & transmission network. We look forward to playing an important role and developing new solutions to the changing world and requirements for balancing the electricity network of the future.

         Nathan Evans, Commodity Analyst at Innogy.


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National Grid ESO - connecting solar farm to grid

Power Potential final showcase virtual event 2021 and Close Down Report

UK Power Networks and National Grid ESO were delighted to present to you the Power Potential final showcase virtual event on Thursday 24 June 2021

The slides are now available in the Conference Archive section within Related Documents, please take a look at the information presented in more detail. Please click on the photo to the left and this will start the video playback of the event.

Our Close Down Report has now been published and can be viewed via button below

Please CLICK HERE to view the Project Close Down report

Why Power Potential?

What is the challenge?

As renewables replace synchronous generation, there are challenges to the management of supply including:

  • high voltage in periods of low demand
  • low voltage under certain fault conditions 
  • thermal constraints during the outage season.

As a result, there are constraints on the numbers of low carbon technologies that can connect in the South East region of the UK as well as a high risk of operational issues in the network and a high cost of managing those issues.

What is our aim?

National Grid and UK Power Networks have a shared vision for a more open and participatory power network.

The objective of the project is to create a regional reactive power market for distributed energy resources (DER) connected to the distribution network to provide the following services to the Great Britain (GB) System Operator:

  •  dynamic voltage control form DER (Mvar for high and low voltage conditions)
  • active power support for constraint management and system balancing  

In order to provide voltage support in South East, increasing reactive compensation is needed. DER connected in the distribution network have the potential to provide reactive and active power services to the system.

Giving us access to resources connected in UK Power Network’s South East network will provide additional tools for managing voltage transmission constraints. It will also open up new revenue streams for distributed energy resources by opening up a new market for them.

How will we do this?

Power Potential is structured into the following key deliverables:

  • a commercial framework using market forces to create new services from distributed energy resources to National Grid via UK Power Networks
  • a platform known as Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS) to support technical and commercial optimisation and dispatch.     

The DERMS solution will work as follows:

  • gather commercial availability, capability and costs from each DER
  • run power flow assessments to calculate the possible availability of each service at the grid service point and present that information to us
  • instruct each DER to change their set–point as required and monitor their response on the day power is required by us.

What are the benefits?

If successful Power Potential could potentially save up to £412m for UK consumers by 2050. It could be introduced to 59 other transmission sites and produce an additional 3,720 MW of generation in the South East area by 2050.

Please click here to see more project details on Ofgem's website.

Requirements for participation

Who should participate?

The following generators/plants connected in the South East area of England are encouraged to participate in the Power Potential trial:

  • PV power plants;
  • Wind farms;
  • Batteries and storage sites; 
  • Synchronous generators; 
  • Aggregators; and/or
  • Other distributed energy resources (DER) not reflected in this list.

If you have any of the above generation connected in the South East, we’d like to hear from you. If you are outside of this scope, we would welcome your feedback on our design and invite you to keep abreast of the ongoing work in developing the reactive market on our website.


Before deciding to take part in the trial there are a number of points you may need to consider. They are:

  • What are the services to be provided through Power Potential?
  • How do I know if my plant is suitable?
  • Do I need to make any changes to my plant to take part?
  • What are the next steps?

The commercial framework

During 2018, we will design and test the technical and commercial design of the Power Potential project with trial participants. The trial will take place in 2019 and will only be open to distributed energy resources (DER) connected via UK Power Networks, at Canterbury, Sellindge, Bolney and Ninfield. Unfortunately, if your assets are outside of this area you will be unable to participate in the one year trial.

We'll be seeking feedback and ideas during the trial from the wider industry through our Regulatory Market Advisory Panel. 

The trial is investigating whether reactive power support from non-conventional sources are only effective if they are connected to the transmission system at 400/275 kV. If they are connected to the distribution system, their level of effectivness will be investigated. 

This work forms part of the deliverables of the Flexibility workstream, which is looking at how we improve and simplify balancing services. In 2017 we published a System Needs and Product Strategy document which sets out how we intend to review and simplify balancing services.

The document sets out how we intend to reassess the commercial valuation of reactive power and consider locational sensitivities. This will look at clearer signals of need, appropriate routes to market for potential providers and how we can access reactive power from generation when at low, or no active power output.

We would like to create a market that values reactive power in a transparent manner and aim to do this by the end of 2018/19. This design will begin following consultation and will also be informed by the results of the Power Potential project.

Events and news

Power Potential Final showcase virtual event

Power Potential final showcase virtual event was held on Thursday 24th June 2021

UK Power Networks and National Grid ESO were delighted to present to you the Power Potential final showcase event.  

The project team had analysed and compiled the trials’ technical performance, commercial results, key insights and next steps for the project.  The event featured speakers from both National Grid ESO and UK Power Networks and an extended Q+A so the audience could put questions to our experts.

The SLIDES are now available in the Conference Archive section within Related Documents, please take a look at the information presented in more detail.

The project has demonstrated a world-first regional reactive power market in the South East of England. It has also unlocked insights on the principles of a transmission and a Distribution System Operator (DSO) enabling Distributed Energy Resources (DER) connected to the distribution network to deliver dynamic voltage control for transmission constraints, integrated with operational systems.

If you attended we would love to get your feedback by answering the short survey, the link is on the penultimate slide of the pack 


World-first renewable energy market trial hits major milestone

A world-first project to create a new market for renewable energy has reached a
major milestone by starting its first end-to-end live trial.


COVID-19 Impact update

The current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Power Potential project and we are working towards a new timeline for the Power Potential trials. This would extend the timescale of the project to around March 2021, maintaining the duration of the Wave 1 Optional Trial and Wave 2 Market Trials, preserving the learning and revenue opportunities from the project. Of course, this is contingent on when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

We’ve frozen the start of Optional and Market Trials until at least 1st September 2020. During the freeze period, as soon as government restrictions and public health guidance allows, we will maximize opportunities for DER commissioning and Mandatory Trials execution.

The project documentation has been updated accordingly, having issued a new Market Procedure and updated Guidance on Wave 1 Mandatory Technical Trials, that can be found in the document section below.

CIGRE webinar 4 March 2020

The project team presented on the CIGRE webinar on 4 March 2020 the trial preparation activities and specific aspects of the technical and commercial evaluation that will happen during these.

The slides are available in the webinar archive below.

Please get in touch if you’d like to know more details on our approach to validate the reactive service support from DERs

We've updated our Interface Schedule

We have updated our Interface Schedule spreadsheet. The schedule provides further explanation of the signals between UK Power Network's RTU and DER controller. An additional tab includes further information on how to set up the DNP3 Protocol configuration for each signal. There is a reduction in the overall number of signals. However there are some new optional signals and two optional fail-safe signals have been changed to mandatory.

This interface has been further refined to version 2.3.1.  

The new schedule can be downloaded from our documents section below.

2019 Award updates

It is awards season and the Power Potential project has been recognised at various events this year. 

The Project had been shortlisted for a Sustainability Award in the 14th British Renewable Energy Awards.  A big celebration for the project being shortlisted.  National Grid ESO was a headline sponsor for the awards on the 11th June 2019 at the Intercontinental in Mayfair but unfortunately we were not awarded a prize .

In the Energy Efficiency Awards 2019 – South East region, Power Potential was again shortlisted in the Large Scale (>£250K) project category.  Given the scale of the Power Potential project with respect to other entrants, the judges assigned us to a brand new award for Infrastructure Innovation. National Grid ESO and UK Power Networks were announced as the Winner and the award was presented to Biljana Stojkovska at the awards dinner on 31st May 2019.  SEE THE TROPHY

The Power Potential project, between National Grid ESO and UK Power Networks, has been announced as the Winner at the National Technology Awards on 16th May 2019 in the category IoT project of the year. Great recognition for the team, the innovation we are doing at National Grid ESO with UK Power Networks and our commitment to deliver a complex important project for the future.  SEE THE TROPHY

On the 26th March, we attended the Network Awards 2019 where the project had been shortlisted in the Innovation Project of the Year - Electricity. Unfortunately, we are not able to celebrate a win on this occasion.

The first Power Potential Industry Event, 30 October.

On 30 October 2018, we hosted our first industry dissemination event. We we joined by lots of great speakers from across the energy industry and shared updates about the project. Weren't able to join? You can access the slides here. Thank you to all those that made the event a great day!

Successful paper submission at the the IET’s International Conference on Renewable Power Generation

After a successful paper submission to the IET’s International Conference on Renewable Power Generation, the team were invited to present to an audience in Lyngby, Denmark. There was lots of discussion and questions from the audience. If you would like to read this technical Power Potential paper, click here to download a copy. 

2018 Award Updates

The Power Potential project was shortlisted for two industry awards;

1. the Best Use of New and Emerging Technology Award in the innovation category at the Real IT Awards

2. the Smart Energy Award at the 13th British Renewable Energy Awards

Unfortunately we were not successful this year but there are more awards to follow in coming years as the project progresses so keep watching for our updates on awards

Would you like more information on the Power Potential project?

We regularly hold dates for one-to-one meetings with distributed energy resources who might be interested in taking part in our project trial. If you would like to arrange an appointment with us, either to discuss participation, or the project more broadly, let us know by emailing us at [email protected] 

Read more about the Power Potential project in Network Magazine

Read more about the Power Potential project from Biljana Stojkovska, Project Manager at National Grid in Network Magazine. Find out how we intend to create a new regional power market in the South East region of the UK.

On 18 April, Biljana will be presented at the Future Networks Conference in Birmingham alongside Ali Reza Ahmadi from UK Power Networks, our project partner. Missed it? Drop us an email if you would like to see the presentation, or find out more.

Dame Fiona Woolf becomes the Chair for Regional Market Advisory Panel

We are delighted to welcome Dame Fiona Woolf as Chair of our Regional Market Advisory Panel. Dame Fiona is one of the UK’s most respected energy lawyers, and has become the chair of a new joint innovation project for National Grid and UK Power Networks. She began her role as chair of Power Potential on 22 February.

Dame Fiona has worked across over 40 jurisdictions on electricity market implementation, regulation and power and transmission projects.

As chair of the Regional Market Advisory Panel, she will bring a wealth of knowledge and ideas to the group. The panel has been created to provide an opportunity for interested stakeholders, trial participants and industry experts to provide different perspectives and ideas to enhance the Power Potential project.

Fiona said, “As the first Chair of the newly formed Regional Market Advisory Panel for both National Grid and UK Power Networks, I appreciate the vital work being undertaken by the Power Potential project to overcome complex network issues with a world’s first 21st century solution. My ambition, as Chair, is to guide the electricity industry into opening up new markets and opportunities to give the network greater flexibility and at a cost savings that will benefit energy bill payer.”


Swissgrid and Axpo Power AG - sharing learning

The Power Potential team had a great opportunity to visit Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission grid operator and Axpo Power AG, a Distribution System Operator (DSO) in Switzerland. Both meetings have given us learning we can implement into our own project. 

The meeting with Swissgrid gave us a great opportunity to understand how they manage active voltage control in their network. Swissgrid's power system has no, or a very small amount of non-synchronous generation, the biggest difference from our system. We also learned that Swissgrid established a fixed price that is paid to the DSO at the interface between the two systems. They also implement a penalty charge to any DSO which operates outside the defined reactive envelope.

Meeting Axpo Power AG was equally beneficial. The DSO is responsible for dispatching reactive power from the Distribution Energy Resources (DER) in order to meet the envelope at the interface between distribution and transmission. They showed us how their power plants meet the requirements for active voltage control. Of particular interest for us was a control algorithm, their equivalent of the Power Potential DERM system, which they are developing in-house. The control algorithm does not account for post-fault dynamic control, however--a fundamental difference from the Power Potential project.

Both visits provided useful learning we can implement into our project. 

Related documents

A trains passes between buildings in Manchester

Technical solution

In order to enable Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) to provide new services to the electricity transmission system, a management platform is currently being developed that will facilitate the communication between DERs connected to UK Power Networks and National Grid.

Find out more