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Project Distributed Restoration

The Distributed Restoration project is a three-year Ofgem funded partnership that's the first of its kind in the world. Its aim is to lead the way in finding a technical solution to utilising the power of distributed energy resources (DER) in a Black Start event. 

What is the Distributed Restoration project?

The partnership project will research and test how distributed generation can be used in the event of a Black Start scenario to restore electricity supply to both the distribution networks and the transmission system. Currently, the Black Start service is procured from power stations that have the capability to start main blocks of electricity generation onsite, without reliance on external supplies. 

This is the first project of this type in the world to look at how DER capabilities can be harnessed to provide this service. The Distributed Restoration project will focus on two key areas:

  1. restoration of the electricity system, in a Black Start scenario, using distributed energy resources (DER)
  2. supporting the move towards a decentralised low-carbon, cleaner and greener energy system.


Why do we need Black Start from DER?

Although a Black Start scenario is an unlikely event, it's essential that the UK's electricity system has the procedures and capabilities in place to restore power in the event of a total or partial shutdown. our energy landscape is changing rapidly; becoming greener, cleaner and more decentralised in a short amount of time. This is why we need the Distributed Restoration project, to investigate ways to include DER into our Black Start strategy and capability. 

We need to adapt to the new energy landscape  

Traditionally, Black Start services have been procured from larger power stations and interconnectors. However, as we transition to more distributed energy resources on the electricity system and fewer large power stations, we need to adapt and develop our technologies and capabilities to work with the new energy landscape. 

The Distributed Restoration takes a new approach to restoring electricity in a Black Start event. This is a new world-leading project that will trial and test engineering theory in real-life situations. The findings and studies from this project will mean that our ability to manage and maintain our energy system are even more robust and ready for the future. 


How the Distributed Restoration project will work 

Due to the complexity of project Distributed Restoration the team have divided the project into four main areas below.

Power engineering and trials

Thorough trialling and testing of DER capabilities as a provider for Black Start services is a key outcome of the Distributed Restoration project. As well as a series of 'live trials', our team will provide a detailed analysis of case studies and further research to identify key technical requirements allowing for a solution which appropriately reduces risk to providers and ensures efficiency and reliability. 

Organisation and systems

We're developing a plan that provides a process and framework for how the technical solution could be incorporated into a future ancillary service. This work will include finding the limitations and capabilities of organisations and telecoms resilience. This will provide a control and communication methodology, facilitating restoration across all Distribution Network Operator (DNO) areas. 

Procurement and compliance

It's important that the solutions trialled and proposed are not only safe and reliable, but cost effective for consumers too. Our aim is to explore the relationship between mandated requirements and competitive procurement solutions. We'll make recommendations on the strategy of procurement and feed our findings into teams and organisations who are responsible for code changes and regulations. 

Black Start from alternative sources

The Distributed Restoration project is run in parallel with a Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) project - Black Start from Alternative Energy Resources - to identify the current readiness levels of different DER technologies and how they could be used in the primary and secondary stages of power restoration. 

Our project partners 

The Distributed Restoration project is being run in partnership with National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), TNEI and SP Energy Networks. Ofgem have provided much of the funding for the project, however, all three partners will share the remaining costs between them. Each partner is bringing expertise and experience to the project, find out more about them below. 

SP Energy Networks

SP Energy Networks (SPEN) is a licensed Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for central and southern Scotland and parts of England and north Wales. SPEN also operates the Transmission Network in central and southern Scotland. 



TNEI is an independent specialist energy consultancy firm with a range of skills tailored to answer the challenges and opportunities associated with increased distributed renewable generation, and the integration of low carbon technology. 


A row of exposed lightbulbs with an orange wall in the background

What are distributed energy resources (DER)?

Distributed Energy Resources (DER) are electricity producing resources that are directly connected to a local electricity distribution system, or they are connected to a host facility which is itself connected to the local system. A benefit of DER is that they provide a cleaner and greener alternative to generating electricity; though the scale of production is typically smaller when compared to traditional resources.

Examples of distributed energy resources (DER) include:

  • solar panels
  • natural gas turbines
  • biomass generators
  • wind turbines
  • embedded hydro-power stations.

Power Potential project

National Grid ESO's Power Potential project, is a world first and aims to create a new reactive power market for distributed energy resources (DER); with the intention of generating additional capacity on the electricity network.

This could save energy consumers over £400m by 2050 and generate up to an additional 4 GW in the South-East region of the UK.

Find out more