What’s the difference between a gravitationally completely collapsed object – and a black hole?
The answer? Nothing and everything. You see, under its original name only physicists talked about it. But once someone called it a black hole, everyone was intrigued. This cumbersome concept became compelling.
Black holes are a great example of how important a name can be when you want to engage people in a fairly complex idea. Names really matter. And that’s why we’ve rebranded our TDI 2.0 project to ‘Power Potential’.
If you’re not already aware of it, the project, funded by Ofgem through the Network Innovation Competition (NIC), will explore whether sources of generation connected to the distribution network can provide key services to the transmission network, such as dynamic voltage control. This is where reactive power is needed at short notice to maintain voltage following a system fault.
For our NIC application, we called the project Transmission and Distribution Interface 2.0 (TDI 2.0). If you’re an electrical engineer, then it’s self-explanatory. But to everyone else, TDI 2.0 sounds more like a family car.
We think Power Potential is clearer and more compelling. It captures our goal to create new opportunities for distributed generators, for consumers of power – and for our business. There’s a technical side too. ‘Power’ refers to the reactive control aspect of the project. ‘Potential’, meanwhile, represents voltage, which is also known as potential energy.
The new brand dovetails too with another of our business’ key projects, Power Responsive. We hope it will help us engage with our stakeholders in a more effective way.
We believe that Distributed Energy Resources (DER), connected to the distribution network, have the potential to provide important services to the power grid.
- Biljana Stojkovska, Power Potential Project Lead.
The project unwrapped
As many reading this will know, renewable energy from sources including wind turbines and solar panels is becoming a growing feature of today’s electricity network. In regions across the UK, more and more distributed generation using renewables as alternatives to traditional fossil fuels have come online.
We believe that these Distributed Energy Resources (DER), connected to the distribution network, have the potential to provide important reactive and active power services to the power grid.
Without delving too deeply into the complicated mechanics of this, these are vital services that help us keep the grid stable and ensure power flows reliably to UK homes and businesses. So with this project, we’re really aiming to show that large volumes of power from these sources can be effectively absorbed into the power network.
Power Potential which will last for three years, focuses first on the South East through our project partner UK Power Networks. This is a complex and challenging region for us to operate. Right now, it’s at the limit of its capacity for both exporting and importing power from the rest of the transmission system.
It’s our belief that by connecting more distributed energy sources, we’ll be able to better manage the current constraints on the system, making it more stable and affordable to run, while creating new opportunities for distributed energy businesses. If successful, the new model could be introduced to 59 other regions, potentially saving an estimated £412m for UK consumers by 2050.
The next three years
In Power Potential’s first year, our focus will be on testing whether distributed energy sources can provide the services we need – both reliably and in real-time.
Once we’ve shown it’s feasible, we’ll then look to develop a market of new services that can be provided by DER. It’s too soon to say exactly what these will be, but we’d foresee they’ll include local services such as pre- and post-fault reactive support, as well as broader system-wide services, such as balancing products.
All of these will give distributed energy businesses significant new opportunities to earn additional revenue. Keep an eye on the pages of Connecting to find out more about these products and services as they’re designed and developed.
Above all, the project will see us, the electricity System Operator, collaborating more closely with Distribution Network Operators as we aim to prove that a joined-up, whole-system approach can be beneficial for everyone from network operators to generators to end consumers.
As its name suggests, this project is all about unlocking unexploited potential. Once the work is complete, we believe we’ll have resolved many of the existing transmission constraints we face. We’ll have improved system stability and reduced operational costs considerably.
So remember the name – it’s Power Potential. And over the next three years we’ll aim to transform that potential into improved system performance that brings benefits to all.
If successful, the new model could be introduced to 59 other regions, potentially saving an estimated £412m for UK consumers by 2050.
Source: National Grid.