What is the Distributed ReStart project?

Distributed ReStart is a world-first initiative. The project explores how distributed energy resources (DER) such as solar, wind and hydro, can be used to restore power to the transmission network in the unlikely event of a blackout - a process known as black start.

This would remove our dependence on large and costly fossil fuel generators to provide a black start service. This ground-breaking approach would create the blueprint for international adoption.

Distributed Restart Data chart

Watch this video for a more detailed explanation of the Distributed ReStart project.

Project description

Distributed ReStart will demonstrate a world first by coordinating Distributed Energy Resources (DER) for a bottom up approach to black start from distribution up to transmission level. Black start is currently a transmission-led service using large fossil fuel generators, like coal-fired power stations, to restart the transmission network.

DER include renewable sources of energy like:

  • natural gas turbines
  • biomass generators
  • embedded hydro-power stations
  • wind turbines
  • solar panels.

DER provide a cleaner and greener alternative to large fossil fuel generators. Although the scale of production for DER is typically smaller, their enormous growth on distribution networks presents an opportunity to co-ordinate a black start using renewables.

The key challenge for the projectis how to bring the organisational coordination, the commercial and regulatory frameworks, and the power engineering solutions together to achieve black start from DER.

View our approach

Distributed ReStart - benefits

Benefits for net zero, DER and consumers

Removing our dependence on large fossil fuel generators for black start services will help achieve a net zero carbon grid by 2025. It will also make possible the government’s net zero carbon target for 2050.

DER and flexible demand companies would benefit from revenue for the provision of black start services.

And increased competition will reduce black start costs with savings passed on to consumers through reduced levies.

View our progress
Distributed ReStart - Who should get involved

Who should get involved?

Industry stakeholders who should get involved include:

• distributed energy resources (DER) generators
• distribution network operators (DNO), transmission owners (TO) and system operators (SO)
• energy suppliers
• academics, engineers, innovation aggregators
• IT, telecommunications, cybersecurity
• legal, regulatory, grid codes
• Ofgem, government, policy, lobbyist

Get involved

Our project partners

Distributed ReStart is a three-way partnership bringing together the expertise of National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), SP Energy Networks (SPEN) and TNEI (a specialist energy consultancy).

Ofgem have provided £10.3 million of the project’s total budget of £11.7 million, with the balance of £1.4 million shared equally between the partners.

You can find out more about what we do here.

SP Energy Networks

SP Energy Networks (SPEN) is a licensed Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for central and southern Scotland and parts of England and north Wales. SPEN also operates the Transmission Network in central and southern Scotland. 

Visit website



TNEI is an independent specialist energy consultancy firm with a range of skills tailored to answer the challenges and opportunities associated with increased distributed renewable generation, and the integration of low carbon technology.

Visit website

Stay up to date

Join our mailing list for newsletters, latest updates and upcoming events.

Engage with us

Find out more about our latest events and how you can engage with our experts and give feedback.

Get in touch

Email: [email protected] Write: National Grid ESO, Faraday House, Warwick Technology Park, Gallows Hill, Warwick, CV34 6DA