Economic and environmental benefits from adoption of active power network management scheme
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Strathclyde
Unit of AssessmentElectrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials
Summary Impact TypeEnvironmental
Research Subject Area(s)
Engineering: Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Environmental Engineering
Economics: Applied Economics
Summary of the impact
Research at the University of Strathclyde between 2003 and 2008 directly
produced the following impacts from 2008 onwards: 10 wind farms (17 MW
aggregate capacity) connected to the Orkney power network from 2009 to
2013 with accompanying economic and environmental benefits; Orkney power
network reinforcement deferral saving of £30M from 2009 with repeat
deployments of Active Network Management (ANM) technology in other UK
power networks; spin-out company formed in September 2008 with total
revenues to date of £6.1M, equity investment totalling £3.5M and 35 FTE
jobs created; provision of new power system options for long term network
plans impacting the 2013 investment decisions in distribution network
companies; contribution to the emerging Smart Grid business sector in the
UK and overseas from 2008.
Context: The research was undertaken in the context of the growth
of renewable generation in the UK and the barriers to its connection to
the power system, including overcoming network capacity constraints which
became the focus for this case study.
The research led by Graham Ault was undertaken in a single core project
`Facilitate Generation Connections on Orkney by Automatic Distribution
Network Management' (June 2003-April 2004, Department of Trade and
Industry) with Scottish & Southern Energy Power Distribution Ltd
(SSEPD). The aim was to define the active power flow management problem,
and propose and test solutions taking account of prevailing power network
planning and operations standards. Active power flow management involves
calculating and executing control actions in power networks to achieve
objectives such as integrating renewable energy generation or reducing
electrical losses. Ault worked in close collaboration with SSEPD and this
became a vital part of the subsequent deployment of a solution and the
generation of the impacts described in this case study.
Two further sequential projects from 2006 to 2008 [Grants 6 and 7]
refined the methods for design of the active power flow management scheme
in terms of control zone definitions (based on identification through
analysis of critical power network constraint locations) and trigger
threshold calculations (based on assumed ramp rates for energy generation
and demand, and communication and control time delays).
Key Findings: The initial research resulted in the core concept
for Active Network Management (ANM) with the Orkney power network. The
core research contributed an ANM requirements specification (including
functional and non-functional elements), algorithms for control (including
identification and resolution of multiple power circuit constraints) and a
conceptual design (including measurement, communications, control hardware
and software) for a deployable ANM system. The project was a significant
step towards a deployable ANM solution based on underpinning power system
and control research. The research also provided the necessary technical
detail to allow discussion of the implementation of ANM concepts within
Ault and Currie worked with SSEPD personnel to establish the conceptual
design for an active power flow management approach based on measurement
of circuit power flows and the regulation of wind farm power output to
relieve network constraints. This was based on methods to calculate the
wind generation constraints and economic feasibility of wind power in such
an ANM scheme . The wind generation constraint assessment (later
generalised to any type of generation or electricity demand) enables a
time series of electrical demand and generation (in half-hourly or higher
resolution) to be assessed over a significant timescale (e.g. years) to
quantify the number of constraint periods and the total constraint energy
volume for one or more generators. The economic impact of loss of
generation revenue from energy sales and any renewable certificates or
incentives can then be calculated.
A further core research challenge tackled was a method for calculation of
appropriate operating margins for an ANM scheme. This is important as
operating margins that are too narrow present power network security
risks, whilst margins that are too conservative and wide limit access to
the available network capacity for power generators. The research
presented a method of calculating multiple operating margins that could be
applied within an ANM scheme .
The practical implementation of an ANM scheme requires that a power
network is organised into different zones of control. The research
established the method for identifying these zones of control, with
reference to the identification of all possible network constraint
locations. This approach was embodied in a patent .
Key Researchers at Strathclyde: Graham Ault led the research
throughout. He was a Research Fellow in 2003, and progressed to Senior
Lecturer (2005), Reader (2008) and Professor (2010) in the Department of
Electronic and Electrical Engineering. Robert Currie was Ault's PhD
student at the start of the research in 2003, became Research Assistant at
Strathclyde (2006) before leaving the University to join Smarter Grid
Solutions Ltd (2008) where he is still the Technical Director.
References to the research
Outputs 1 and 2 best indicate the quality of the underpinning research
 Currie, R.A.F., Ault, G.W., McDonald, J.R, `Methodology for
determination of economic connection capacity for renewable generator
connections to distribution networks optimised by active power flow
management', IEE Proceedings — Generation, Transmission and Distribution,
2006, vol. 153, Issue 4, pp 456 - 462.
 Currie, R.A.F., Ault, G.W., Foote, C. and McDonald, J.R., `Active
power-flow management utilising operating margins for the increased
connection of distributed generation', IET Generation, Transmission and
Distribution, 2007, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 197-202.
This paper set out the basis for operating margins in the public domain
that was taken forward and fully set out in the second patent [ref 4
 GB Patent No. GB0901968 `Active Network Management Scheme' (Zones).
Filed November 2008, Granted.
This patent defines control zones in an active power flow management
scheme to underpin the design of the active network management scheme.
 GB Patent No. GB2476396 `Active Network Management Scheme'
(Triggers). Filed November 2008, Granted November 2011.
This patent defines the method for calculating operating margins
(thresholds) which underpin the control instructions generated to deliver
active power flow management.
Other Evidence for quality of research: The research was supported
by the following funding
 `Facilitate Generation Connections on Orkney by Automatic
Distribution Network Management', June 2003-April 2004, DTI funding award:
£116,100 to Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution Ltd. (Strathclyde
part: £58,000), Project Ref. K/EL/00311/00/00. Grant Holders: J.R.
McDonald and G.W. Ault. Researcher: Robert Currie.
 `Orkney Registered Power Zone (RPZ) Research & Development
Project', Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution Ltd., April 2006 -
March 2007, £55,464. Principal Investigator: Graham Ault. Employed
Researcher: Robert Currie.
 `Scottish & Southern Energy Research Fellowship', January 2007 -
August 2008, £74,731. Principal Investigator: Graham Ault. Employed
Researcher: Robert Currie This project supported the completion of
research tasks and supported the transfer of knowledge into the trial ANM
deployment for the Orkney power system.
The IP generated in the research and now licensed from the University of
Strathclyde to Smarter Grid Solutions Ltd. includes the two granted UK
patents, two patents in Europe EPO and US USPTO that have been accepted
with grant dates in June and July 2013, respectively, and the software
code for the constraint evaluation tools.
Details of the impact
Process from research to impact: The research undertaken at the
University of Strathclyde between June 2003 and June 2008 was conducted in
close collaboration with Scottish & Southern Energy Power Distribution
(SSEPD). As research results generated from 2005 until 2008 started to
look promising and the proposed Active Network Management technology
looked viable, discussion turned towards implementation in the Orkney
network as a technology trial. The main focus of the activity under the
two follow-on contracts (April 2006 - June 2008, [Refs 6-7] involved
knowledge exchange into SSEPD, into SSEPD's contractors for the trial
deployment, and into the patents drafted and submitted in 2008 [Refs 3 and
4]. On the basis of the research, SSEPD took the decision that a viable
alternative to network reinforcement (through an additional subsea cable
to connect Orkney to the mainland) was available, with considerable cost
savings as outlined below.
Types of Impact: The following impacts arose from the
collaborative programme of research.
Commercially successful spin out created: As SSEPD explored how to
support the deployment of ANM on Orkney and elsewhere, discussions around
commercial spin-out from the University of Strathclyde began and quickly
developed into a proposal approved by the university and external
investors (Scottish & Southern Energy Venture Capital and the Scottish
Co-Investment Fund managed by the regional development agency Scottish
Enterprise). Smarter Grid Solutions Ltd was incorporated in June 2008 and
spun out from the university on an arm's length basis in September 2008.
The spin-out process enabled a focus on industry needs to deliver ANM
technology on a fully supported commercial basis. Smarter Grid Solutions
Ltd. has grown substantially since formation in 2008 with total revenues
to the end of March 2013 standing at £6.1M from projects with UK and
European power network operators. These revenues are based on the core ANM
technology researched and developed at the University of Strathclyde.
Smarter Grid Solutions Ltd. employs 35 FTE staff (at May 2013) and
supports several companies in the UK and overseas on smart grid
investment, trial and roll-out. The company has received equity investment
totalling £3.5M to 2013. [Source A supports all claims related to Smarter
New technology adopted: From 2009, SSEPD started connecting
additional wind generation to the Orkney power system under the ANM
scheme. Until that point the network had effectively been closed to new
generation connections due to network thermal capacity constraints and
this has been resolved through application of the ANM solution delivered
by Smarter Grid Solutions Ltd.
Cost savings to Scottish and Southern Energy: The deployment of
ANM technology on the Orkney power network in 2009 has resulted in power
network reinforcement deferral savings of £30M from an avoided additional
sub-sea power cable from mainland Scotland to Orkney [Source B].
Costs and customer benefits: As highlighted within the UK Power
Networks Business Plan [Source F], significant savings have been produced
following a trial of the Flexible Plug and Play Network (FPP) which
utilised the ANM method resulting in an average saving of 87% covering six
wind farms. Economies of scale have reduced the costs of the ANM system
and telecommunications platform for the FPP project to about £2 million.
Power generation: The deployment of ANM technology on the Orkney
power system has led to the connection of 18 additional wind farm
developments with 25.91MW aggregate capacity on the Orkney power network
between 2009 and 2013. There are carbon reduction and local, social and
economic benefits from the development of these additional renewable
generation schemes, and wind farms connected to Orkney gained earlier and
cheaper access to the power system through the deployment of ANM
technology [Source C].
Changes to investment strategy of UK network operators: The
research and subsequent commercial deployment of ANM technology has
provided new power system investment options for the UK distribution
network operators and these have fed through into their 8-year investment
plans being published in 2013 [Source E and F]. Smarter Grid Solutions
Ltd. has been at the forefront of advising UK power companies on ANM
technology and this impact on design and investment policy is a direct
result of the research. In the UK, the impact of successful deployment of
ANM technology on Orkney has given confidence to power companies to invest
in further deployments of this technology under innovation funding (i.e.
Low Carbon Network Fund) and to include ANM technology in their investment
plans for the period 2015-2023 under the RIIO price control mechanism
[Source D]. The ANM technology (being promoted by Smarter Grid Solutions
Ltd.) has been the focus of industry wide assessment in the Ofgem/DECC
Smart Grid Forum Workstream 3 modelling activities in 2012/13, and has
been the focus of business planning activities with all 6 of the UK
Distribution Network Operator companies (i.e. Scottish & Southern
Energy Power Distribution, Scottish Power Energy Networks, Western Power
Distribution, UK Power Networks, Northern Power Grid, and Electricity
Wider adoption: By July 2013, Smarter Grid Solutions Ltd. was in
advanced stages of discussion relating to feasibility assessment and
deployment with clients in the EU, US and Asia Pacific. Smarter Grid
Solutions personnel have presented training and knowledge exchange
workshops, training session and tutorials for international recipients at
trade exhibitions, and workshop events and company seminars in the EU, US
and Asia Pacific.
The impacts described above indicate the financial, economic, employment,
and design benefits that have resulted from the research into ANM
technology at the University of Strathclyde. Furthermore, the success of
the technology is now informing long term strategy and investment plans of
the UK distribution network operators.
Sources to corroborate the impact
A. Managing Director (Smarter Grid Solutions Ltd.) and the company
financial statements for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 will support the
claim(s) that Smarter Grid Solutions was formed on licensed technology
from the University of Strathclyde and that the company has grown to the
revenue volume (plus other financial indicators) and staff complement
B. SSEPD Technology Manager (SSEPD) will support the claim(s) that Orkney
power network reinforcement deferral saving due to the ANM implementation
was approximately £30M and that this technology and the spin-out company,
Smarter Grid Solutions, have contributed substantially to the new smart
grid business sector in the UK and are changing the way that networks are
planned through business plans for the 2015 Electricity Distribution Price
Control Review. Will also confirm the 17MW connected and >20MW planned
wind generation connections through ANM on Orkney.
C. Chairman (Hammers Hill Energy, Orkney) will support the claim(s) that
wind farms connected to Orkney gained earlier and cheaper access to the
power system through the deployment of ANM technology.
D. Future Networks Manager (Western Power Distribution) will support the
claim(s) that the ANM technology is being rolled out by other UK power
companies and being incorporated into business plans for the period
2015-2023 under the RIIO price control mechanism.
E. Future Networks Manager (Scottish Power Energy Networks) will support
the claim(s) that ANM technology based on University of Strathclyde
research is impacting the investment planning and network design policies
in UK distribution network companies.
F. UK Power Networks, Business Plan 2015 - 2023, Annex 9: Smart Grid
Strategy, July 2013: