Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)

The Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) provides an annual allowance to fund innovation projects that create value for our customers. You can find out more about our NIA-funded projects on this page.

We have released our latest NIA Annual Summary following collaboration with 34 partners on innovation projects last year (2018/19).

The report offers a progress update on all the innovation projects completed or being undertaken by the ESO over the last 12 months.

Download NIA Annual Summary 2018/19 

 

NIA projects we are currently delivering

Investigation & Modelling of Fast Frequency Phenomena (“F2P”)
Project referenceProject nameInnovation priority (see Annual Summary)SuppliersPEA CostStart TRLEnd TRL
NIA_NGSO0007Investigation & Modelling of Fast Frequency Phenomena (“F2P”)3, 6, (4)*Brunel University£340,00036

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

All conventional generators across GB are synchronised so that their rotating masses all spin at the same speed (50 times per second), which means that a balanced system has a frequency of approximately 50Hz. Any event on the system – such as the loss of a large generator – causes a change in that frequency which ripples through the system. Not unlike dropping a stone in a pond, these can cause issues if the frequency change is too large and too fast. Fast frequency phenomena are increasing from the connection of more renewables and can result in two main consequences. Firstly, disturbances on the system are causing a larger ripple effect on the frequency. Secondly, the renewable generation itself is more likely to trip (disconnect from the network) as a result of the frequency fluctuation. In this project, we’re trying to accurately observe and predict how these fluctuations impact the system.

Results and learning

We’ve developed a 3D visualisation tool, which gives us a remarkably clear picture of how frequency events ripple across the country. This is a significant step forward in how we understand fast frequency phenomena.

We’re now developing new modelling techniques that will allow us to better predict frequency fluctuations. We’re also building a real-time replica of the GB system, where we can virtually connect sensitive equipment and see how it’s affected.

Consumer benefits

By understanding how events unfold and accurately predicting their effects on the system, we’ll be able to manage risk better and integrate more renewables securely and cost-effectively.

Solar PV Monitoring Phase 3

Project reference

Project name

Innovation priority (see Annual Summary)

Suppliers

PEA Cost

Start TRL

End TRL

NIA_NGSO0008

Solar PV Monitoring Phase 3

 

Sheffield Solar (The University of Sheffield)

£690000

3

7

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

In just over seven years, around 13 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation has been connected to GB distribution networks. This reduces demand at Grid Supply Point (GSP) level, where we flow power from the transmission system onto a distribution network. Some of the generated energy also flows in the other direction onto the transmission system on particularly sunny days, and where there are significant installations of solar PV. It’s critical that we can forecast the generation from these systems in order to manage the GB network in a secure and cost-effective way. Across the three phases of this work, we’ve been developing our understanding of the monitoring, measuring and forecasting of PV generation. In the earlier stages of this work, we measured generation at various sites, developed 30-minute generation patterns for PV, and created a new service to provide this monitoring for National Grid and the wider industry. At phase 3, we’re further developing this service.

Results and learning

The work we’ve done at phase 3 thus far has led to much better estimates of solar power at GSP level. These high-quality estimates allow us to precisely monitor and forecast how much power will flow onto and around the transmission system.

The existing outcomes of the work had been used for some years to make better decisions on how to balance the system at the national level. For the first time this year, the estimates of GSP solar power produced by phase 3 are being used to support real-time decisions on network outages and constraint management.

Consumer benefits

By understanding solar generation better, we can forecast supply and demand on the system more accurately. This will reduce system balancing costs and help us improve system stability. We estimate savings for our industry and consumers from the successful outcome of this project to be millions of pounds each year.

Virtual Synchronous Machine Demonstration

Project reference

Project name

Innovation priority (see Annual Summary)

Suppliers

PEA Cost

Start TRL

End TRL

NIA_NGSO0004

Virtual Synchronous Machine Demonstration

 

University of Nottingham TTPi

£456’000

4

6

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

Most traditional generators turn at the same rate and are synchronised with the power grid. Renewable generation, however, utilise non-synchronous technologies and are connected through power inverters. This gives renewable generation the freedom to harvest power in all conditions without, for example, wind turbines being restricted by a need to turn at the same frequency as the system. Using non-synchronous technologies has allowed more low-carbon energy onto the system at lower connection costs. However, as it continues to grow and replaces traditional synchronous machines, it could pose significant challenges for the day-to-day operation of the grid. We’re attempting to develop and specify a technology to solve this, called Virtual Synchronous Machines (VSM). It uses advanced electronic converter controls so non-synchronous generation can inherit key features of conventional synchronous machines.

Results and learning

The VSM Demonstrator Project is developing a Virtual Synchronous Machine (VSM), which uses advanced electronic controls to give inverter-connected generators some key features of more traditional machines. Following research to understand if VSM could be a practical solution to supporting the 100% penetration of renewable generation on the system, this project is now building a prototype of the technology for testing. We’re refining its design to overcome previous issues with short circuits and an imbalance of harmonics.

Consumer benefits

The technology has a huge potential to help us operate a system run on increasing amounts of low-carbon, inverter-connected generation. VSM technology could help us hit key carbon-reduction targets at the lowest cost.

Hybrid Grid Forming Converters

Project reference

Project name

Innovation priority (see Annual Summary)

Suppliers

PEA Cost

Start TRL

End TRL

NIA_NGSO0019

Hybrid Grid Forming Converter

 

University of Strathclyde

£292,000

3

4

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

An increasing amount of electricity supply (mainly from interconnectors and renewables) is connected to the grid through power inverters. While this allows more low-carbon energy on to the system, it creates a variety of challenges for operating the grid. These include low inertia and more rapid changes of frequency. The pioneering project is developing a technology that make newer forms of generation act in a similar way to conventional synchronous machines, helping increase the amount of inverter-connected resources while maintaining system stability.

Results and learning

In the Hybrid Grid Forming Converter, we’re looking into how the principles of VSM could be applied offshore. We’re testing how a mix of devices, placed in parallel as hybrids, could allow us to bring more offshore wind online.

Consumer benefits

The technology has a huge potential to help us operate a system run on increasing amounts of low-carbon, inverter-connected generation.

 

Frequency Response Auction Trial

Project reference

Project name

Innovation priority (see Annual Summary)

Suppliers

PEA Cost

Start TRL

End TRL

NIA_NGSO0017

Frequency Response Auction Trial

 

EPEX SPOT

£1,142,000.00

5

7

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

One of our goals as the ESO is to offer equal access to all providers of balancing services. Frequency response is one such service. We keep system frequency within a set range by continuously balancing the national demand for electricity with the total output of all the generators in Great Britain. To help us do that, we buy frequency response services from a wide range of generation, demand-side providers and electricity storage. When system frequency is too high they reduce their output or increase their demand; when it’s too low they increase their output or reduce their demand. This keeps the system in balance. Operators of non-traditional energy resources – like renewable generation, storage and demand side response – have told us that our current monthly tender process doesn’t work for them, since they can’t confidently predict their availability that far into the future. To address this concern, we’re experimenting with making a fundamental change to how we buy frequency response by designing and trialling a weekly pay-as-clear auction. This will help create a more level playing field that will allow a wider range of technologies to participate in frequency response markets.

Results and learning

We’ve been working with project partner EPEX SPOT to develop the main elements of the new procurement route – both the algorithm that will run the auction and the platform that will act as the link between service providers and ourselves. We’ll shortly publish a document on how the auction platform and process will work for providers. We’re also developing new processes and arrangements that will make sure service providers are paid quickly and accurately. This will give greater peace of mind about being part of this market. Once the auction platform has been developed and tested internally and with stakeholders, we’ll run a live trial for two years. This will help us understand how procuring frequency response much closer to real-time than ever before impacts the market. The auction with EPEX SPOT is due to go live in September 2019, and ahead of that we launched a simplified weekly auction in June to trial buying one service.

Consumer benefits

Reducing timescales from a month to a week ahead means more non-traditional service providers will be able to confidently predict their availability. This should increase both the number and diversity of energy businesses taking part in the market. More participation will create more competition, which we expect will drive down the price our business pays for these services. These savings will ultimately flow through to consumers’ bills, while creating new revenue streams for some of the market’s newest energy providers.

RecorDER

Project reference

Project name

Innovation priority (see Annual Summary)

Suppliers

PEA Cost

Start TRL

End TRL

NIA_NGSO0018

RecorDER

 

 

£753,000.00

3

6

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

‘RecorDER’ is a collaboration between National Grid, UK Power Networks, SP Energy Networks and Electron to develop and demonstrate an asset register for Energy Resources. The project seeks to define, assess and pilot a blockchain-based asset register, enabling parties to use and reference a shared data set of generation and flexibility resources. The project aims to pilot a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and, where possible, determine requirements for a full-scale deployment in future iterations of the project.

Results and learning

 

Consumer benefits

 

Enhancing Energy Flexibility from Wastewater Catchments through a Whole System Approach

Project reference

Project name

Innovation priority (see Annual Summary)

Suppliers

PEA Cost

Start TRL

End TRL

NIA_NGSO0024

Enhancing Energy Flexibility from Wastewater Catchments through a Whole System Approach

(Water DSR)

 

United Utilities Water Ltd

£225,000.00

3

4

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

 

Results and learning

 

Consumer benefits

Short-term System Inertia Forecast

Project reference

Project name

Innovation priority (see Annual Summary)

Suppliers

PEA Cost

Start TRL

End TRL

NIA_NGSO0020

Short-term System Inertia Forecast

 

Imperial College

£300,000.00

3

6

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

This project aims to provide a proof of concept for an accurate day-ahead and intra-day system inertia forecast with multi-time resolution, that can be potentially used to support the day-ahead frequency response procurement and the real-time system operation.

Results and learning

 

Consumer benefits

Optimisation of weather data to improve energy forecasting

Project reference

Project name

Innovation priority (see Annual Summary)

Suppliers

PEA Cost

Start TRL

End TRL

NIA_0015

Optimisation of weather data to improve energy forecasting

(Weather Data Optimisation Forecast)

 

The Smith Institute

£124,000.00

3

4

*The innovation priority numbers in brackets are indirectly linked to the projects

Find out more on the Smarter Networks website.

Project overview

This project aims to provide a proof of concept for an accurate day-ahead and intra-day system inertia forecast with multi-time resolution, that can be potentially used to support the day-ahead frequency response procurement and the real-time system operation.

Results and learning

 

Consumer benefits