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WPD successfully uses transmission technology to make distribution network connections

We have become the first Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to use technology originally designed to connect networks between countries.

Technologies like our Flexible Power Link (FPL) are usually used by transmission companies but, as part of our £13m Network Equilibrium project, we used it to connect two 33kV circuits in the South West that were electrically isolated from each other enabling load and generation to be balanced more effectively.

“The electrical factors were so different it would have been impossible to use traditional methods of connecting them,” explained Innovation and Low Carbon Networks Engineer Yiango Mavrocostanti.

“The FPL is important because it has enabled us to balance the two networks by linking a circuit that has a lot of generation on it to one that is demand dominated, meaning that we can avoid significant network reinforcement while enabling customers to connect both load and generation to the network faster and more efficiently.”

The FPL isn’t the only new technology that’s come out of the Network Equilibrium project, which was focused on balancing voltages and power flows across the distribution system.

System Voltage Optimisation (SVO) is a control system that manages the network voltages in an intelligent way and has enabled us to operate the network flexibly, overcoming the limitations of traditional voltage control.

“Traditionally, we have devices on our network that try to keep voltages as close as possible to a fixed, pre-determined value at all times,” explained Yiango.

“Previously, we could not intervene with the way they were operating. We have now created technology that successfully interacts with those previously static devices and dynamically controls them, massively increasing the flexibility of the network. The technology is completely autonomous and changes the network’s voltages based on the actual, real-time operating conditions.”

The importance of the SVO interaction is that it optimises the network and releases capacity, enabling more use to be made of the network and deferring the need to install new cables, new overhead lines or even build more substations.

Being able to control and operate the network intelligently is essential for all UK DNOs as they transition to become Distribution System Operators, therefore both the FPL and the SVO technologies are remaining operational within WPD, continuously providing new skills and knowledge.

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  • Innovation