The consortium behind the UK project will explore how advanced digital technologies can aid decision-making when managing and balancing energy resources and assets.
A consortium is exploring how an open and interoperable digital twin of the UK’s electricity transmission and distribution networks can aid decision-making when managing and balancing energy resources and assets.
Distribution and transmission network operator SP Energy Networks and Digital Catapult are working with the University of Strathclyde and National Grid ESO on the project, which also aims to help to improve understanding of the potential role of advanced digital technologies in achieving the UK’s net zero targets.
The consortium reckons the project, which has received funding from UK energy regulator Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), will determine the “art of the possible” based on currently available technologies. It will also outline the use case and minimum viable product for a digital twin of the electricity transmission and distribution networks.
Development of the digital twin will allow the partners to understand the system in real-time, providing the ability to visualise – and simulate – how and when the electricity transmission and distribution network is being used, in order to balance the system in the most optimal, safe, and cost-effective way.
“This project is all about understanding how digital twins can support visualising, understanding, and evolving a system as complex as the UK’s electricity networks to respond and adapt in real-time”
“With the anticipated electrification of heat and transport, and the proliferation of distributed energy resources connected at distribution level – such as electric vehicles, solar, and standalone battery storage – we will see an increase in demand-side flexibility as we aim to achieve the UK’s net zero targets,” said Niko Louvranos, senior energy and utilities practice lead at Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, such as 5G, IoT, artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum.
“We therefore need to have better visibility of the potential impact and efficacy these assets might have when balancing the National Electricity Transmission System (NETS), and develop systems and processes to manage this more intertwined and complex system in its future state.
Neil Kenward, director of strategy and decarbonisation at Ofgem, added: “The only way we can reduce our vulnerability to volatile and high gas prices is to focus on generating cheaper, cleaner power here at home.
“Ofgem is committed to achieving net zero rapidly and at lowest cost, to deliver real net benefits to network companies, energy users and consumers. That is why we are delighted to support innovative projects like this one through our Strategic Innovation Fund.”
“The only way we can reduce our vulnerability to volatile and high gas prices is to focus on generating cheaper, cleaner power here at home”
The initial phase of the project (Discovery) is the first of three in the SIF process, identifying relevant use cases, functional requirements as well as current and future sources of asset data at different voltage levels to assess the feasibility of developing a simulated digital twin that can run what-if scenarios and support national electricity transmission system balancing decisions by National Grid.
Subsequent phases will build on these learnings to develop a proof-of-concept (Alpha phase) to further understand and de-risk a larger scale trial that we will aim to develop in the final SIF (Beta) phase.