UK Power Networks (UKPN) has partnered with GE Digital to implement Constellation, a ‘world-first’, smart substation initiative designed to ensure grid sustainability and reliability.
The project will enable UKPN to leverage digital solutions including machine learning, software engineering, and system optimisation to make substations interoperable and secure.
The initiative will enable more renewable energy capacity to be added to the utility’s grid network for decarbonisation and resilience. Up to 1.4GW of clean capacity is expected to be integrated onto the grid, the equivalent energy required to power 700,000 households.
In addition, the project is expected to save more than £750 million ($989.9 million) in consumer energy bills by 2050 and avoid the emissions of 17.8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
GE Digital’s PhasorController will be installed in a series of substations to enable UKPN to access real-time data regarding events within the distribution network as well as leverage automation and remote control of distributed assets.
PhasorController will provide resilience and continuity of assets operation when communications links are unavailable. Currently, when a utility loses communications, it will fall back to a safe power level which can lead to time periods when DER cannot operate. The solution uses data analytics and machine learning (ML) to incorporate data from periods when communication and the network is managed normally. This then “trains” Machine Learning models centrally and then distributes the models to the local renewable generation controls, so they are ready to go live if/when communications are lost.
The project will enable UKPN to leverage analytics to match its changing energy demands with generation, and in turn, be able to expand its portfolio of renewable energy resources and energy flexibility capacity.
This will speed the utility’s digital transformation and contribute to net-zero targets while reducing the need for investment in additional infrastructure.
Ian Cameron, head of customer service and innovation at UKPN, said the utility “is adapting to increasingly complex power flows by becoming smarter so we can safely release more capacity and enable more renewable energy to connect at lower cost – saving customers money and helping the environment at the same time.
“We already have smart control rooms and grid edge devices like smart electric vehicle chargers. Having smart substations in the middle pulling it all together is a logical next step.”
Jim Walsh, General Manager of GE Digital’s Grid Software business, added: “Constellation marks a transformation in the way electricity networks operate.
“It will release reliable grid capacity in previously constrained situations. The combination of high-resolution data, advanced analytics, and flexible controls enable the network to operate reliably within its capability without over-conservative limits. It will also provide a foundation for additional smart solutions, further benefiting customers.”