National Physical Laboratory

Supporting the UK Smart Grid

NPL/NMS have helped the energy sector accurately measure power quality which is essential for smart grids integrating and managing power from renewable energy sources.

The Challenge

Energy
For smart grids to become a reality the power
generated by renewable energy sources needs
to be measured accurately

Maintenance of power quality within smart grids (power generation/distribution systems currently in development) presents a major challenge to the energy industry. Smart grids of the future will use communication technology, power electronics and energy storage to balance production with consumption at all levels.

The UK's investment in renewable energy, in particular photovoltaics, wind, and wave power poses a particular challenge in terms of measuring the effects these could have on the network in terms of power quality and network reliability.

The Solution

In the summer of 2011 NPL/NMS scientists carried out a pioneering study on the effect of a large photovoltaic installation in Anglesey. They designed and built specialised equipment to measure power quality with unprecedented accuracy.

The Impact

The study's results enables grid planners to anticipate and sidestep several potential pitfalls and, as such, should prove of significant value.

The cost of building the UK's smart grid are considerable to say the least - recent estimates point at many £billions, and measurements such as this can be used to ensure that future networks are designed to ensure reliable high quality power delivery using the most efficient and cost effective grid architecture.

Find out more about NPL's work in Electromagnetics

Contact: Paul Wright

Last Updated: 24 Sep 2012
Created: 24 Sep 2012

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