Innovation projects receive Ofgem and Innovate UK SIF Alpha Phase funding to accelerate decarbonisation in Wales and improve Great Britain’s resilience to extreme events

We’ve received investment from Ofgem and Innovate UK’s Strategic Innovation Fund to progress two projects designed to accelerate decarbonisation and improve the resilience of Great Britain’s energy system.

Achieving Wales’ decarbonisation ambitions with a connected digital twin

A use case project for the ESO’s Virtual Energy System programme, Powering Wales Renewably  is designed to accelerate the decarbonisation of the Welsh energy system through the creation of a connected digital twin of Wales’ electricity transmission and distribution network. 

A digital twin will provide a whole-system view of the Welsh electricity grid, allowing us to collaborate with industry to assess the impacts of increased renewable generation on Wales’ electricity network and support the Welsh Government with their ambition to generate 70% of its electricity requirements from Welsh renewable energy sources by 2030, and be fully decarbonised by 2035.

What issues will Powering Wales Renewably help resolve?

Through industry consultation in the project’s Discovery phase, we identified three challenges which Powering Wales Renewably will address to help achieve the decarbonisation of the Welsh energy system. These are:

  • The lack of visibility, and a common understanding by stakeholders, of the whole electricity system network challenges. Data is published but industry and external datasets are not yet catalogued, and correlated to fully satisfy the needs of system users created by the energy system transition
  • Flexibility is not yet treated as a whole system resource nor fully coordinated between transmission and distribution
  • Local area energy plans, network development plans and the connection queue lack alignment making potential synergies hard to identify

How will Powering Wales Renewably solve these challenges?

The modelling capabilities provided by a connected digital twin will facilitate the development of an electricity system that can host increasing renewables, integrate decarbonised demand, operate flexibly, meet local needs and ownership aspirations, and coordinate local plans with regional and national plans to deliver decarbonisation.

The use of a connected digital twin will provide a greater understanding of the Welsh energy system and facilitate faster connections to the electricity grid to provide local communities with locally generated electricity. 

To deliver the  Alpha phase of this project, we’re partnering with CGI, the Welsh Government, National Grid Electricity Distribution, National Grid Electricity Transmission, SP Energy Networks and CENIN Renewables.

Improving our resilience to extreme events

High-impact, low-probability (HILP) extreme events can have serious impacts on Great Britain’s energy system as we rapidly transition towards an increased dependency on renewable generation and reliance on electrification.

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events along with influences of other geopolitical events can also have direct and indirect impacts on the system.

The Scenarios for Extreme Events project will build understanding of how whole-energy system resilience can be impacted by extreme events, identifying vulnerabilities, and informing future investment planning decisions.

How do we currently prepare for extreme events?

Currently, measures for these scenarios are reactionary rather than anticipatory. Whole energy system impacts and interactions between energy vectors and other sectors (i.e., water, telecoms, transport etc.) during these HILP events are not systematically captured, which limits our operational resilience.

How are we improving resilience?

The Alpha project output is anticipated to be a prototype model that predicts the impacts of future HILP events. This capability would be developed and integrated into business-as-usual activities, including resilience planning and our Future Energy Scenarios (FES).

All networks, operational and planning teams could use the project outputs to better understand and pre-empt the impact of extreme events on the grid and wider energy system.

We’re working alongside the University of Strathclyde, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Cadent Gas, National Gas Transmission, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission, and the Met Office to deliver this model.

These projects are funded by energy network users and consumers through the Strategic Innovation Fund, a programme from the UK’s independent energy regulator Ofgem managed in partnership with Innovate UK.

Want to find out more about these projects?

You can learn more about these projects here.