Learnings from two DNO innovation projects – the closedown event

Two flagship innovation projects, led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), have come to a conclusion after 5 years of hard work and persistence.  The closedown event, held at the home of Institution of Engineering and Technology on the 28th and 29th of March, revealed the key learning outcomes on technical, commercial and behavioural aspects from the New Thames Valley Vision (NTVV) and the Northern Isles New Energy Solution (NINES) projects. Two members of the TSBE Centre, Dr Timur Yunusov and Alice Gunn, have been involved in these projects and attended the close down event last week.


Focussing on the low voltage network, the NTVV aimed to demonstrate how electricity distribution networks can better serve their customers by understanding, anticipating and supporting their energy use as they move towards low carbon technologies. Understanding of the customer behaviour was achieved through the deployment of substation and customer monitoring systems: over 300 secondary substations and 250 customers. The gathered data was then used to anticipate the change in customer behaviour through forecasting their demand and their impact on the network through a network modelling environment. The forecasts are also used to inform how the change can be effectively supported through the deployment of energy storage devices (i.e. hot thermal, cold thermal and battery) and automated demand response, compared to the traditional network reinforcement.

Dr Timur Yunusov, who recently joined the TSBE centre as part of the Energy Research Lab, was directly involved in the delivery and analysis of the NTVV project. He played a key role in the development and integration of the control system for battery energy storage and power electronics devices deployed on the Low Voltage electricity distribution network. The control system was developed to automate the operation of the energy storage and power electronics devices, and utilise the short-term forecasts with network monitoring data to optimally support the network operation. The trials of the energy storage and power electronics devices under smart control have demonstrated an improvement on the network operation, projected to be capable of increasing the hosting capacity for the Low Carbon Technologies in low voltage networks.


Taking advantage of the unique challenges of an islanded electricity network, the NINES project focused on increasing hosting capacity and utilising its high wind resource by introducing flexibility in to the network. This was achieved through domestic demand side management and the installation of a 1MW/3MWh lead-acid battery, both controlled through a bespoke Active Network Management solution. The project successfully allowed around 3 times the amount of renewable generation onto the system highlighting the effectiveness of this type of solution in providing extra flexibility for network operators. These types of solutions are likely to be of great value in the future for DNOs.

EngD student, Alice Gunn, has used the NINES system and its challenges as a case study for her own research which looks at how different types of energy system modelling tools can be used for future policy development. Shetland is an exciting case study for this project due to its challenge with intermittency and interest in DSR solutions to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels in the future.

Key learnings summary

Learnings from these projects inform the transition from Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to Distribution System Operators (DSOs), allowing more cost effective operation of distribution networks whilst allowing continuous integration of Low Carbon Technologies and Smart Technologies.  The highlights of the learnings are:

  • Forecasting is the key for achieving optimal operation of the smart solutions and their cost effectiveness.
  • Substation monitoring can be replaced by aggregation which buddies the end point monitored customers with the un-monitored customers.
  • Frequency response can be provided with domestic storage heaters.
  • Domestic and commercial demand side response have a huge potential to provide flexibility.
  • Electric Vehicles will be a major challenge for DNOs and an opportunity to enable flexibility for DSOs

The final and complete learning outcome reports are due to be published on the projects’ websites shortly:



This entry was posted in energy, News and Events, sustainability and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *