Skip to main content
This project ended in Feb 2020 and is now closed.Dismiss

Network Islanding Investigation

Funding mechanismNetwork Innovation Allowance (NIA)
DurationJan 2019 - Feb 2020
Project expenditure£224k
Research areaNetwork Improvements and System Operability
  • February 2020

    With the finalisation of the final report, work is now focused on preparing the Closedown report. The draft Closedown Report is now under preparation and wil…


The objective of this project is to understand the technical, commercial, regulatory and legal options and challenges, and potential benefits of operating parts of the distribution network in islanded mode under different conditions. The investigation of islanded operation is necessary to demonstrate that, while commonly considered to be undesirable, it may provide a valuable additional solution for operators to actively manage the network and add to the ‘toolkit’ to provide flexibility when acting in the role of DSO. This project aligns with our Innovation Strategy which identifies research and system modelling of Network Islanding under the research area ‘Network Improvements and System Operability’.


The connection of Distributed Generation (DG) and Low Carbon Technologies (LCT) to the distribution network has now reached a level where traditional reinforcement options are no longer always suitable and alternative technical and commercial flexibility solutions are now routinely employed. There are currently a limited number of ways for operators to actively manage the network to provide this flexibility, principally employing wide scale load turn up or generation turn down, however, a more localised approach to system balancing and flexibility has many potential merits. Typically, network islanding is an undesirable operational scenario and DG is configured to disconnect in the event of islanding to avoid abnormal system frequency and voltages. However, management of loads and generation in islands may provide a new flexibility solution for network operators, with significant benefits to the network and current and future connected customers, such as more locally mitigating short term network constraints or facilitating customers in a specific area with a means to operating a self-sufficient network to be energy neutral.


This project aims to investigate the technical and commercial options, challenges, and potential benefits of operating parts of the LV, 11kV and 33kV distribution network in islanded mode under different conditions. The investigation will involve a review of the latest islanding technologies and case studies of islanding in other networks around the world. This will include an assessment of existing approaches to network islanding from a variety of literature sources. A selection process will then be used to identify a number of network islanding approaches to be taken forward from the review based on a high level assessment of the drivers, benefits, regulatory impact and commercial arrangements for each approach, including the trade-offs between cost, security and quality of supply. For each of the approaches identified, there will be a detailed investigation of the current and future drivers, benefits, legal and regulatory impact, and commercial arrangements to operating networks in island mode. It will include a preliminary assessment of the costs and benefits of network islanding as well as identifying the barriers, if any, that exists to operation in various network island modes and proposed solutions to overcome them. Evidence will be gathered about the theoretical advantages of islanding, and provide assessment of the viability and practicality of approaches as a solution for DNOs. A feasibility study will then identify suitable areas within WPD’s network that would benefit from network islanding approaches, confirmed through analysis of network models developed for those areas. The models will be used to demonstrate the operation of different islanded network modes / approaches in the identified areas. They will also quantify the potential carbon and financial savings, and capacity release benefits.