The Low Carbon Hub
|Duration||Jan 2012 - Feb 2015|
Why we did the Lincolnshire Low Carbon Hub
An Introduction to the Problem
Distribution networks at all voltage levels, from 132,000V down to 415V, have predominately been designed for demand connections and to operate passively. This passive design philosophy has historically been the most appropriate and cost effective method to operate distribution networks since the difference between minimum and maximum network demands hasn’t been significant. When network reinforcement is required, for a proposed increase in either demand or generation, this has largely been achieved through installing new overhead lines (OHL) and / or underground cables.
However, due to the increasing connection of distributed generation, large areas are becoming generation dominated and, at times when the generated energy exceeds demand, power is exported from the distribution network back into the transmission network. This can cause problems on both the distribution and transmission networks which restrict further generation connections.
An Introduction to the Lincolnshire Low Carbon Hub
The Low Carbon Hub for East Lincolnshire was designed to test a variety of new and innovative techniques for integrating significant amounts of low carbon generation on to electricity distribution networks, in an effort to avoid the costs and other issues that would normally be associated with more conventional methods of network reinforcement.
Lincolnshire, being on the east coast, makes it suitable for a wide range of renewable generation types. These include onshore and offshore wind farms, large scale solar Photo Voltaic (PV) and energy from bio crops. However, many generators cannot connect to the distribution network closest to them due to the effects their connection would have on the operation of the existing network. These generators thus tend to require long, new underground cable installations to connect them to more robust sections of the network. This is inevitably a very expensive solution that frequently destroys the business case for the generator. However, Western Power Distribution (WPD) continued to receive a high volume of connection enquiries from developers throughout the life of the LCH – a situation that strengthened the justification for this project.
Through the Low Carbon Hub, the project sought to explore how the existing electricity network could be developed ahead of need and thus deliver low carbon electricity to customers at a significantly reduced cost in comparison to conventional reinforcement.
The project developed the six complementary project techniques detailed in Figure 1, demonstrating them and a telecommunications system in east Lincolnshire to increase effective network capacity and facilitate additional generation connections. To help with this objective, the project received £3m of funding from Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund Tier 2.