Is the North East leading UK’s low carbon revolution?

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Northern Powergrid has announced an £83m electricity network upgrade programme running to 2023. The , the North East’s district network operator says its upgrade programme, labeled ‘Smart Grid Enablers’, is the most comprehensive in the UK and is set to pave the way for a rapid expansion in electric vehicles, domestic heat pumps and renewable power.

A new cost saving programme

The upgrade will be the most significant for the region’s electricity network since the 1970s and, through new energy ‘solutions’, predicts cost savings of up to £500m by 2031 across the North East, Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire business networks.

The programme involves upgrading the largest private telecoms system in the region – 8000 substations -without disruption to customers. It also involves creating new data warehousing to process data from both substations and customers’ smart meters and requires 100 specially trained engineers.

Leading the low carbon revolution

Patrick Erwin, policy and markets director at Northern Powergrid, said: “Our Smart Grid Enablers programme is putting our region at the forefront of the low carbon revolution. It will make us ready to support rapid growth of electric vehicles, heat pumps and solar power in the next decade, while maintaining a reliable system and keeping costs as low as possible for all our customers.

“This is the most comprehensive upgrade programme of any UK network operator and will give us a state of the art command and control capability, enabling us to respond to real-time information about power flow on our network.”

Energy expert analysis

“A very positive announcement from the region’s district network operator which puts the North at the vanguard of ‘smart’ grid development in the UK. It should enable a much wider implementation of electric vehicle ‘smart’ charging technologies and support the integration of low carbon and renewable energy generation across the region’s electricity network.” Alastair Fells MEI, Incorporated Eng, PG Dip Fuel Tech, BSc Hons

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