SPEN takes a real-time look at network loading with new software

SP Energy Networks has joined forces with Sia Partners to use new forecasting software to more closely manage the network and make better use of locally-generated power.

The new approach combines historical network data, detailed weather data and artificial intelligence to predict the energy flowing on the electricity distribution network. With greater understanding of where and when power is needed to match consumer demand, and how much is needed, it can see how local generation can best contribute. This enables targeted investment and allows the network operator to get more out of existing assets.

The  forecasting platform has also been used to validate SP Energy Networks’ emergency plans and procedures during periods of reduced consumer demand, as happened when businesses were forced to shut down due to Covid-19.

Grant McBeath, control room manager at SP Energy Networks, said: “The software we’ve developed with Sia Partners has proven to be easily adaptable to not only deliver benefits for us now, but sets the foundations for our transition to a distribution system operator where we’ll be managing a complex and ever-evolving network not least of all due to the expected increase in low carbon technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps.

“These technologies will be a huge part of the green recovery in a post-civid world and in driving our net zero ambitions, but will increase demand on the network. Sia Partners state of the art systems therefore allow our engineers to rely on artificial intelligence and data analytics to gain a better understanding of that impact and to then predict where investment should be made in advance.”

“Ben Young, Operational Manager at National Grid Electricity System Operator said: “During the fast-evolving Covid-19 situation, NGESO has been working with the whole electricity industry to understand and manage the impact of low demand on the GB electricity system. Sharing of data with all DNOs, including demand and embedded generation forecasts, has been vital to the continued secure operation of GB electricity system. Forecasting tools, like this one developed by SPEN, support industry-wide coordination, as we all journey towards a decarbonised and decentralised future.”

SP Energy Networks owns and manages overhead and underground powerlines in Central and Southern Scotland as well as Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and North Shropshire.