Northern Powergrid invests in smart grid

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UK utility Northern Powergrid has awarded a £11.4 million ($15.86 million) contract to upgrade its secondary Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

Ireland-based telecommunications firm EMR Integrated Solutions will upgrade the utility’s SCADA to an Internet Protocol communications platform across 7,500 substations.

The project, part of the utility’s £83 million smart grid enabler programme, will enhance the energy company’s remote network management.

The contract is part of Northern Powergrid’s digital transformation initiative designed to leverage smart grid data to optimise the integration and use of distributed energy resources (DERs).

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Expanding DER capacity will help the utility to decarbonise its operations whilst enhancing customer services.

Northern Powergrid will be able to activate enhanced automation across thousands of substations, centralise control of its remote infrastructure and build a better understanding of customers’ electricity consumption patterns across the grid to provide a responsive service that meets customers’ needs.

Mark Nicholson, Northern Powergrid’s Head of Smart Grids, said: “This project will enhance network flexibility and build more digital capability to meet our customers’ needs now and in the future. It will help facilitate our transition to a Distribution System Operator (DSO) that actively manages varying generation and demands across our grid as our customers become more dependent on electricity to power their lights, heating and transport. 

“The ability to remotely operate more of our assets and improve network visibility through collection of real-time monitoring data will help us provide better services to our customers.  We can use the IP network to remotely troubleshoot and manage devices across the air, which reduces infrastructure management costs and enables us to be responsive to an active network and the needs of our customers.”

Paul Green, project manager for Northern Powergrid, said: “The project rollout is underway and due for completion by March 2023.

“We’re working closely with the team at EMR to ensure we have the support we need to deliver our plans.  Where we have technical challenges, we work together to overcome them, and the project team is very responsive which is important as we make this investment a reality for our customers.”