The Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC) Project

National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) teamed up with industry and academia to find new ways to stabilise the Great Britain’s (GB) electricity transmission system as the nation’s energy becomes greener.

The EFCC project completed on 30 April 2019. For full information on the project, please refer to the project's closing down report 

Traditional, large rotating power generators provide lots of inertia (the resistance of an object to any change in motion) which acts as a natural aid in maintaining frequency stability. Renewable energy technologies introduce challenges to system stability as they do not provide inertia, meaning they cannot help maintain system frequency. The increased risk of rapid changes to frequency could lead to faults on the electricity network. As a result, we'll require a greater volume and speed of frequency response to keep the system stable.

NGESO has found that as more renewable sources are connected to the system and larger, inertia-rich, generators such as coal-fired power stations are replaced, maintaining the frequency response at 50 Hz – a license requirement – will become more challenging. New significantly faster frequency, coordinated response solutions utilising renewables, demand side resources, and other technologies need to be developed. The Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC) project was designed to find a solution to this challenge. Project partners included; GE Renewable Energy (formally known as Alstom Psymetrix), the University of Manchester, the University of Strathclyde, Belectric, Flexitricity, Centrica/EPH, Ørsted (formally known as DONG Energy) and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.

What did we do?

Exploring a future of coordinated, fast frequency response

NGESO and its project partners developed, tested and demonstrated the first wide-area monitoring and control system (MCS) of its kind in GB. Through trialling the MCS, the project has demonstrated a flexible approach to coordinated, fast frequency response so that a wide range of technologies can participate in managing system frequency including: 

• Solar PV power plants

• Battery storage

• Wind power

• Thermal generation

• Demand Side Response (DSR).

 

The EFCC project has the potential to provide a range of potential opportunities for service providers to fully maximise their assets.  Knowledge and results gained from the project is contributing to a more flexible, secure and fairer approach for all technologies. The project supports NGESO’s Frequency Response Product Roadmap which aims to simplify and improve frequency response and reserve services.

The MCS

What’s unique about the MCS is that it can monitor the electricity grid at a regional level and coordinate regional frequency response from a range of service providers as necessary. This has not been done on the GB electricity transmission system before.

When a variance in frequency occurs on the system, a response needs to be achieved within fractions of a second to be effective. Over the fast timeframes that this frequency response is being calculated and deployed, there is a difference between the frequencies that are seen at the points where these technologies connect. The MCS provides the bridge of information between the different technologies and the System Operator and can deploy the right response from these technologies at the right time to support the stability of the power system.

This provides greater visibility of what is happening on the grid by using real time data. Armed with the coordinated data the MCS can provide, NGESO and industry partners are helping lead the transition to a new energy future, confident that the faster more effective services needed are being delivered optimally and stably. Not only will this help to deliver greater value to energy consumers by running the system more efficiently, it will also evolve and future-proof the grid.

 

Why EFCC?

The EFCC project has demonstrated that; the MCS can detect and respond to frequency events, that the system has the capacity to operate in the required timeframe, and individual partners have been able to demonstrate their abilities to contribute to frequency response using the system. The project’s power system studies have proven the benefit of a coordinated, fast frequency response in low system inertia conditions. The studies demonstrated that providing a coordinated fast frequency response could increase the allowable maximum infeed loss in the system and decrease the system constraints. This learning and the results are crucial and will assist in the future operability of the electricity network.

More information on the project conclusions can be found in the Project’s Completion Report.

 

What next? 

A phased approach to any potential implementation of MCS is needed. This will include a full assessment of the how the MCS will operate on the live electricity system. This will help to increase the technical readiness of the system before any potential roll-out. Consideration will be given to the new commercial framework and IS interfaces with NGESO’s balancing systems to understand the impact and necessary interfaces. This phased approach will ensure the transition of this complex scheme is carefully managed and coordinated aligning to other business strategies.

A phased implementation the MCS will fully assess the impact on business processes and systems, with appropriate stakeholder engagement at each step. The phases and associated activities do not preclude the use of alternative wide-area control schemes which can provide the same functionality as the MCS.

Phases for implementation include:

1. Proposed Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) MCS demonstration

2. Development of an end-to-end MCS demonstration

3. End-to-end MCS demonstration

4. First stage roll-out of the MCS

5. Second stage roll-out of the MCS

More information on the next steps can be found in the Planned Implementation chapter in the Project’s Closure Report 


 

Our project partners

We are running the project in partnership with energy experts and academia. All of our partners have made a significant financial contribution to the project and have provided support in the following ways:

Belectric

Solar power experts Belectric will provide response from their PV power plants and storage facilities. They'll contribute knowledge and practical solutions to realise the project's goals concerning battery- and PV-based frequency regulation, virtual inertia, and collaboration of different response providers.

Centrica/EPH

Multinational utility business Centrica/EPH provided simulation evidence to demonstrate the viability of large scale thermal generation to provide faster frequency response by implementing revised frequency control logic.

Flexitricity

Leaders in demand-side management, Flexitricity are recruiting customers from industrial and commercial sectors for a demand side response (DSR) trial. The company will also deploy its proprietary control and communication solutions, providing local interface points for the MCS on customers' sites, and will monitor and operate the DSR trial.

Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy) and Siemens

Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy) and Siemens are concentrating on wind turbine trials to demonstrate the capability of a wind farm to provide fast, initiated frequency response and the associated costs of doing so. 

GE Renewable Energy (formerly GE Grid Solutions)

GE Renewable Energy (formerly GE Grid Solutions) have developed the monitoring and control system for the project. The company has a strategic interest in the field of wide area measurement and control.

University of Manchester and the University of Strathclyde

Both institutions are providing academic support, testing facilities, system studies and expert knowledge. A big focus for both Strathclyde and Manchester will be on the results validation and sharing learning from the project.

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Related documents

Closing Down Report

National Grid ESO | April 2019
The Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC) project closing down report