A blog by Andrew Urquhart, Transmission Commercial and Innovation Manager

There are huge and innovative changes afoot within the GB electricity networks industry. As we prepare for the next price control, RIIO-T2, from 2021 onwards, SHE Transmission has been carrying out research and engagement on key topics with our stakeholders to understand what these changes could mean for the future of the north of Scotland transmission network. While many of these changes could indeed prove challenging to implement, they also provide many exciting opportunities for our stakeholders to get better service and value from our network. Adapting and responding to these changes for the benefit of all network users is at the very heart of what we aim to achieve.

One of the most exciting changes to how the UK network will be managed in future is the transition from a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to a Distribution System Operator (DSO), moving to a “smarter” and more flexible way of managing the distribution network. The move to DSO is expected to create greater visibility and control of how the distribution system operates, enabling network users to directly engage with the system enabling decentralised grids, local balancing services and better utilisation of the existing distribution system. The increased uptake of Electric Vehicles in particular provides many opportunities for this.

The DSO transition is currently in its infancy, and detail as to how it will work in a wider GB context is currently being explored and trialled. SSEN’s Innovation team have been working as part of that broad industry effort and have undertaken many trial projects of the DSO approach at a local level, further information can be found here. However, as we put together our business plan for the RIIO-T2 period it is also important to understand what impact is expected on the way we run the transmission network in the north of Scotland.

This is what our working paper, Distribution System Operator Impact on SHE Transmission aims to initially explore; building on analysis already completed by the ENA Open Networks Project to quantify how DSO and the Transmission network may interact during RIIO-T2 based on a range of scenarios referred to as “worlds”. These scenarios are outlined below:

  • World A DSO Coordinates – a World where the DSO acts as the neutral market facilitator for all Distributed Energy Resource (DER) and provides services on a locational basis to National Grid in its role as the Electricity System Operator (NGESO)
  • World B Coordinated DSO-ESO procurement and dispatch – a World where the DSO and NGESO work together to efficiently manage networks through coordinated procurement and dispatch of flexibility resource.
  • World C Price-Driven Flexibility – a World where changes developed through Ofgem’s reform of electricity network access and forward-looking charges have improved access arrangements and forward-looking signals for Customers.
  • World D ESO Coordinates – a World where NGESO is the counterparty for DER with DSOs informing NGESO of their requirements.
  • World E Flexibility Coordinator(s) – a World where a new national (or potentially regional) third-party acts as the neutral market facilitator for DER providing efficient services to NGESO and/or DSO as required.

Our findings are that, when considering all possible affected network parties, we expect the impact on the operation of the north of Scotland transmission network across the five possible DSO worlds to be focused on operations and system planning, and to have little deviation between each world. Our current methods of managing and planning for future investment in our transmission network will have to adapt to accommodate DSO, which is not unexpected given the level of transformation that is expected to take place. You can read more in our detailed findings here.

Preparation is key, and as we continue to develop plans for our future network we will also continue to engage with all key stakeholders and network users to ensure we lay the necessary groundwork for all the exciting changes that lie ahead, for the benefit of all GB customers and stakeholders.

If you have any views on our working paper, please do not hesitate to get in touch: Andrew.Urquhart@sse.com

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