Innovative network management supports renewables and economic growth

09/11/2021

Our Active Network Management project trial in Dunbar created jobs, stimulated economic growth, provided community benefit and connected more renewables than would have been possible without it, a new report by non-profit energy experts, Regen, has found. 

  • Active network management (ANM) will support the growth of renewables in Scotland Regen ANM economic report cover

  • Our ANM trial in Dunbar has enabled job creation, cost savings and community benefit from use of the innovative network management technology

  • We will now work to adopt further ANM across our transmission electricity network ahead of planned reinforcement

Funded as part of the Low Carbon Innovation Fund, we began an early ANM trial in Dunbar in 2012 with our project partners. Lasting over four years, the project tested a number of technical and commercial innovations exploring how the technology - developed by Smarter Grid Solutions, who are a world-leader in Active Network Management technology - could be more widely used ahead of planned reinforcement work in areas where the network is constrained. 

The trial enabled four new projects, totalling 50MW of generation, to connect to an export constrained network, and one existing 48MW wind farm to upgrade from its previous constrained connection to an ANM flexible connection. 

In addition, through the increase in generation in the local area, the trial reduced carbon emissions, facilitated the creation of 56 full time equivalent jobs, provided £75,000 of community benefit for the lifetime of the connected projects, and added £61m to the Scottish Economy - of which over £7m was in the local area specifically. 

Scott Mathieson, our Network Planning and Regulation Director, said: "Scotland is currently hosting one of the most important climate summits in recent years. It has given us a stage to show all the work we have done already to move towards Net Zero and show our commitment to reaching our climate change targets at the pace and scale truly needed. 

"Our electricity networks are at the heart of this climate ambition; they support the growth of renewables as well as the increase of electric heating and transport. It's our job to ensure that we are constantly innovating and investing in our network to make sure it stands ready to support the energy transition. 

"Active Network Management has proved to be an incredibly useful technology to use ahead of our planned multi-billion pound investment in our network to keep increasing the renewable generation Scotland needs. Not only that, but we are proud to be able to show that it can bring significant socio-economic benefits to both the country and directly to the communities it operates in." 

Active Network Management is a way of managing connections into the electricity network, which is responsible for connecting generation, like renewables, into the grid. As Scotland works towards its goal of Net Zero by 2045, more and more renewables are needed in order to reach this target and stimulate a green economic recovery. 

However, there are some current limitations on the electricity transmission network. Whilst major investment is planned across the network over the coming years to connect more renewables than ever before and support the growth of low carbon technologies, in the interim, innovative solutions like ANM are being used to keep pace with climate ambitions. 

Tim Cook from Regen, author of the report, said: "Our evaluation clearly shows that ANM is a valuable tool to allow distribution networks to accelerate the deployment of renewable generation in capacity constrained areas, and to unlock the associated carbon savings and economic benefits of these projects. The Dunbar ANM scheme has also made a significant contribution to the continued innovation and development of ANM technologies and processes. ANM based approaches, working alongside other sources of flexibility, could now play an important role to achieve Net Zero if networks are enabled to take a more proactive role to make strategic network investment." 

Euan Davidson, Chief Technology officer at Smarter Grid Solutions, said: "We were pleased to work with SP Energy Networks and their customers in the Dunbar and Berwick areas to deploy our Active Network Management technology to solve the grid capacity challenges there. It is therefore very pleasing to see this evaluation of the many different benefits by Regen. 

"Network flexibility in general, but this ANM approach to flexible generator connections in particular, provides the foundation for quicker and less expensive development of clean energy. Speed, scale, stakeholder inclusivity and cost-effectiveness are all clearly important in the context of the enormous climate challenge we all now face. 

"This Dunbar ANM project, and the evidence of positive impact now captured in this report, point the way forward to massive scale clean energy development in accelerated timeframes with benefits to a wide set of stakeholders. We are also pleased to be working with SP Energy Networks to roll-out this approach to other network areas and also use the same underlying technology to solve other network challenges."

Regen were commissioned by SP Energy Networks to complete an economic assessment of the Dunbar Active Network Management project. Access the full report here:

Regen: Economic Evaluation of the Active Network Management (ANM) scheme at the Dunbar GSP

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