Transmission tech used to connect isolated circuits

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WESTERN Power Distribution has become the first Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to use technology originally designed to connect networks between countries to connect isolated circuits.

Technologies like the company’s Flexible Power Link (FPL) are usually used by transmission companies but, as part of the company’s £13m Network Equilibrium project, it was used to connect two 33kV circuits that were electrically isolated from each other.

“The electrical factors were so different it would have been impossible to use traditional methods of connecting them,” Yiango Mavrocostanti, Innovation and Low Carbon Networks Engineer at WPD, explained.

“We couldn’t just attach the Flexible Power Link – we had to develop a control system for it that would tell it what to do. FPL is important because it has enabled us to balance the two networks by linking a circuit that has a lot of generation on it to one that is demand dominated.”

The FPL is not the only new technology that has come out of the Network Equilibrium project.

System Voltage Optimisation (SVO) is a control system that manages the network voltages in an intelligent way and enables operating the network flexibly, overcoming the limitations of traditional voltage control.

“Traditionally, we have devices on our network that try to keep voltages as close as possible to a fixed, pre-determined value at all times,” Mr Mavrocostanti said.

“Previously, we could not intervene with the way they were operating. We have now created technology that successfully interacts with those previously static devices and tells them what to do. The technology is completely autonomous and changes the network’s voltages based on the actual, real-time operating conditions.”

The importance of the SVO interaction is that it optimises the network and releases capacity, enabling more use to be made of the network and deferring the need to install new cables, new overhead lines or even build more substations.

Being able to control and operate the network intelligently is essential for all UK DNOs as they transition to become Distribution System Operators, therefore both the Flexible Power Link and the System Voltage Optimisation technologies are remaining operational within WPD.