‘Essentially manual’ balancing system takes the strain as National Grid’s new dispatch software is delayed until 2018

Full introduction of a new electricity balancing system  that will let National Grid make better use of demand-side response, small generators and new flexibility options has been delayed until at least 2018. When the software procurement was competed in 2010 it was expected to go live in 2013. The latest revised schedule follows test running last winter that was expected to move directly to handover.
The current balancing system is “essentially manual”, according to National Grid, and uses a 1960s operating system designed to control “a handful of coal units”. Now the system has hundreds of balancing units that have to react to changing conditions. The system also has to cope with variable units and more cross-border interactions.

“A significant proportion of the new system is going live imminently.  Greater automation of dispatch has been delayed, partly in response to rapid changes in the market since system was designed, and will come on line over next 18 months,” said Duncan Burt, head of system operation at National Grid.

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