Developing the next generation of measurement techniques for the electricity grid
Renewable energy generation and the need to upgrade grid infrastructure are bringing unprecedented challenges to the electricity industry. The UK's investment in renewable energy, in particular photovoltaics, wind and wave power, poses challenges in terms of measuring their effects on power quality and network reliability, as well as determining the behaviour of the entire system as configurations and conditions change.
Smart grids of the future will use communication technology, power electronics and energy storage to balance production with consumption at all levels. Power generation and distribution systems currently in development are all being designed to work within a smart grid. Maintenance of power quality within smart grids presents a major challenge to the energy industry. Our research includes the migration of the highest-level techniques in AC electrical measurements from the laboratory to practical on-site measurements of power and power quality for utilities and manufacturers.
Solar panel power quality
Unprecedented levels of photovoltaic (PV) solar panel systems are being connected to the electricity supply system, but the actual effect on the system is not fully understood. They have the potential to disrupt the quality of supply and introduce two-way flow of current, and therefore have implications for billing systems.
Network operators are responsible for ensuring that clusters of PV solar panels can be accommodated without detrimental effects to the power quality of the energy supply. They need to understand the impact on voltage and power quality prior to investing in large scale installations within their systems and, if necessary, make provisions for network reinforcements to mitigate any effects on power quality or reliability.
Detailed measurement will enable network operators to plan how to add substantial PV systems to their cluster to consider the scale of installation and the impact of that installation on the security of their supply. We look at the cost-benefit and CO2 savings estimates in order to justify investment.