Electricity North West wins £7.95m for project with Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric, the leader in energy management and automation, will develop the overarching control system software as part of the QUEST project with Electricity North West. QUEST is one of the five winning proposals in Ofgem’s “2020 Network Innovation Competition” and has been awarded £7.95 million in funding by the regulator.

Project QUEST will enable Electricity North West to meet the UK Government’s carbon reduction goals by providing the capability to create an energy efficient overarching control system through low carbon technology. The project will run for 4 years commencing in 2021 and will aim to design a holistic voltage control methodology to manage energy supply caused by the renewable transition.

To develop the project proposal, Electricity North West was seeking a trusted partner to develop a trial version of EcoStruxure ADMS with the additional QUEST module. Schneider Electric was the natural choice, being a long-term trusted partner with a history of innovation in its work with Electricity North West.

The system will need to account for activity on the network. Currently, there are different voltage control schemes at different voltage levels, leveraging online tap changers, network reconfiguration and Distributed Energy Resources in the high voltage, medium voltage and low voltage grid. These control schemes often have points of overlap and interfere with each other’s efficient operation, as they have different objectives. This can reduce network reliability and means Electricity North West must work with a bigger operating margin than desirable.

Now the project has received funding, Schneider Electric will supply, install and configure the optimisation software of the overarching system. QUEST will be enabled through the addition of a new, innovative software module within the Network Management System. Schneider will extend their EcoStruxure ADMS with additional modules to cater to Electricity North West and ensure a consistent strategy for network and voltage management is applied throughout the system. Schneider Electric will work alongside National Grid ESO, Fundamentals Ltd, Smarter Grid Solutions and Impact Research to deliver project QUEST.

QUEST is compatible with existing equipment installed to facilitate Smart Street and CLASS, projects which look to improve supply reliability while reducing consumer energy consumption through smart voltage control. This equipment is expected to become standard for Distribution Network Operators (DNO).  By fully co-ordinating the operation of voltage management systems across the whole distribution system, QUEST will provide additional voltage optimisation benefits to areas of the network not included in Smart Street.

David Hall, VP Power Systems UK & Ireland at Schneider Electric, adds: “The UK is an innovation-friendly market and there has never been a better time to support the transition to renewable energy and invest in low carbon activities.”

“Through QUEST, we hope to strengthen our long-term partnership with Electricity North West and work collaboratively to deliver an expansion of EcoStruxure ADMS and an innovative centralised software. Schneider Electric is delighted to be involved and we expect to learn a lot from the project that can be applied nationwide, to make grids smarter and achieve the UK’s Net Zero carbon targets.”

Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure ADMS provides a comprehensive network management solution, including monitoring, analysis, control, optimisation, planning, and training tools that all function on an overarching electric distribution network. By merging distribution management (DMS), outage management (OMS), and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems into one secure solution, it can be applied to the distribution system as a whole or be configured to meet local needs on specific subsets of the system.

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