Network Option Assessment (NOA) Pathfinders

What are Pathfinders?

As the Electricity System Operator, it’s our job to keep the grid stable at all times so we can deliver safe and reliable electricity. We’re also preparing to operate at zero-carbon by 2025 as part of the UK’s net zero target for 2050.

So we’re looking for solutions to challenges in the electricity system, which is carrying increasing amounts of energy generated from renewable and low carbon sources. The projects that look for these solutions are Pathfinders.

Our NOA Pathfinder projects

There are three Pathfinder projects, each designed to solve specific problems in the system

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NOA High Voltage Pathfinder

Finding solutions to regional high voltage issues.

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NOA Stability Pathfinder

Addressing our immediate needs of national inertia, and local short circuit level needs in Scotland.

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NOA Constraint Management Pathfinder

Resolving network constraint issues and lowering balancing costs.

National Grid ESO - Network Options Assessment NOA 2020 - Pathfinder UK map with labels

What are Pathfinders trying to achieve?

Ultimately, we want to find innovative new ways to operate the electricity system of today and tomorrow, and keep costs down for consumers.

Our aims are set out in the Electricity Ten Year Statement (ETYS)

The Pathfinder approach means we are widening participation in the Network Options Assessment (NOA) process, opening up news ways for the industry to help us meet system needs.

Our approach

We’re ‘learning by doing’ and engaging solution providers in an ongoing conversation about how we can improve tender processes for long-term contract opportunities.  This will help to attract competitive and innovative service proposals, leading to contracts for the services we need. 

Latest news

ESO :
National Grid ESO - wind turbine in field at sunrise

’Cheaper and greener’ – the project that’s changing how we keep the grid stable

Why is our stability pathfinder project a key part of achieving our zero carbon ambition?

ESO :
National Grid ESO - gprah of Welsh Power condenser

Latest boost for Stability pathfinder as construction of flywheel begins

Construction of a synchronous condenser and flywheel at Welsh Power’s Rassau site in Ebbw Vale has begun which will play a key role in managing the stability of the electricity system.

ESO :
National Grid ESO Mersey Pathfinder

A new approach to managing voltage and reactive power

We’re finding new ways to operate the electricity grid which are more cost effective for consumers. In this blog, our Head of Networks Julian Leslie, outlines our new approach to managing voltage and reactive power, including our new contracts in the Mersey region.

ESO :
A beach at sunset with the sea coming in and electricity pylons dotted into the distance

National Grid ESO launches long term Mersey voltage tender

We recently shared our ambition to be able to operate the GB electricity system carbon free by 2025. In order to achieve that goal, we are finding new ways of managing system characteristics like voltage through reactive power services.

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