Future of Energy

Why business action is vital to prevent future power cuts

Posted on 19 August 2019
By Dan Connor
Dan Connor
DSR Development and Delivery Manager

Dan works at the forefront of npower Business Solutions’ innovative energy management solution, Energy HQ and has helped to build a DSR proposition to maximise revenues from all types of customer flexibility.

The major power cut that impacted up to a million people across the country earlier this month has got lots of our customers thinking about ways to protect their businesses from such events in the future.

Thankfully, National Grid believes the issues that led to the UK’s biggest power failure since 2008 are “rare and unusual” – and therefore unlikely to be repeated.

But security of supply has certainly increased in priority in the energy trilemma pecking order, shifting the main focus up from cost and sustainability.

For those customers with on-site generation or battery storage assets, they were equipped with a solution to keep their lights on – and potentially generate revenue by helping National Grid to correct the frequency deviation.

Response within two seconds

As you can see from the graphic below, our Energy HQ team instructed customers to respond within two seconds of the grid frequency dropping below 50.0 hertz, following the Little Barford power station tripping.  

 

 

As the frequency dropped to 49.5Hz and below, assets across the country ramped up their response to 100% and secondary frequency response was enacted.

This – along with additional balancing services such as Short-term Operating Reserve (STOR) – led to a recovery in frequency until the Hornsea wind farm also tripped.

At the same time, a lightning strike initiated Loss of Mains protection on embedded generators, creating additional power loss in the system.

The Demand Side Response (DSR) assets managed by Energy HQ responded either by reducing grid demand, via customers switching instead to power from onsite generation, or by increasing energy exported to the system from flexible onsite assets.

Lack of consumer participation

While DSR activity around the country is increasing, it’s certainly not as widespread as it could be.

So although many believe consumer flexibility and storage assets have the potential to mitigate such events in the future, there simply isn’t the level of consumer participation to make this a reality currently.

At this time, it’s estimated the level of DSR that could be leveraged to help manage sudden supply losses is around 1GW of flexibility.

But according to National Grid’s most recent Future Energy Scenarios report, the potential for DSR could reach 6.7GW by 2050 – and possibly even as much as 13GW.

DSR set to grow

So it’s a growth area – and thankfully so if the risk of power failures increases as more centralised fossil fuel generation comes off line, and more volatile renewables become a bigger part of the grid. 

During the recent power outage, the energy mix was made up of 67% non-carbon generation. As this percentage continues to trend upwards, National Grid needs to increase their flexible resources accordingly to enable further decommissioning of carbon generation. 

DSR has therefore never been so important or valuable, both for helping National Grid balance national energy demand and for ensuring consumers are resilient to future outages.

If you’re interested in finding out more about DSR and ways to increase your business’s onsite energy resilience, do please get in touch with our DSR team at Energy HQ. You can reach them via nbs@npower.com or by calling 0800 193 6866.

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