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NOA Voltage Pathfinder – Pennine tender

Today we have published a tender for Long Term Reactive Power Service contracts in the Pennine region. 

The tender forms part of how the ESO is transforming how it manages key properties of the electricity grid, such as voltage, stability and constraints. The new approach aims to drive consumer value through determining whether there are more economic solutions to network asset investment. 


What is reactive power and why is it important? 

At National Grid ESO, we manage the electricity flowing across the transmission network from generation to demand. This electricity is transported at voltages much higher than what is delivered to your home. We must make sure that the voltage remains within safe limits across the whole network. We do this by using equipment and generators across the transmission system to absorb or inject reactive power. Too much reactive power increases voltage levels, and too little reduces it. 

What’s changing and why? 

Traditionally, reactive power services are provided by large generators and equipment owned and maintained by the transmission owner (TO). As we transition to a world where energy comes from low and zero carbon sources and access to large generators is reduced, we need to find new sources and providers of reactive power. 

We have seen a continual increasing need to absorb reactive power and prevent high voltage levels. The tender aims to find the most cost-effective solution to a need in the Pennine region. 

The 10-year contract, starting 1 April 2024, is part of a continued approach to procuring reactive power to determine whether a third party can deliver a more economic solution compared to the network asset alternative. This tender is open to potential providers embedded within the Distribution network as well as at Transmission level, including those that are not yet connected.  

For more details click here

How does this fit into the bigger picture? 

A complex set of processes are involved in keeping the power system stable – ensuring secure and reliable operability in real-time. Currently those processes, the foundations of the electricity system, rely to some extent on the intrinsic nature of traditional fossil-fuelled generation. 

Over the past year we have begun transforming these foundations, designing new approaches through our Pathfinder projects. New technology means that as well as wind and solar providing power, they can also be used to manage key properties of electricity such as frequency and voltage. We’re also designing new commercial frameworks too, widening access to the electricity market and making it easier for smaller, renewable sources of power to play a role. 

The progress is exciting, but the biggest change is yet to come – in just four years, when there is enough zero carbon generation available, we will be able to operate Great Britain’s electricity network without using any fossil fuels for electricity generation.