Smart grid project shows why UK Power Networks topped global rankings


English regional electric company UK Power Networks has topped this year's Smart Grid Index of utilities ranked by Singaporean state-owned power company SP Group.

Having been named top British utility for its smart grid performance since the first ranking was compiled, in 2018, Hong Kong-owned UK Power Networks has now topped the global pile, ahead of U.S. peers Pacific Gas & Electric and Con Edison – ranked second and fourth, respectively – fellow U.K. power company Western Power Distribution, in third, and Australian business Citipower.

London-based UK Power Networks (UKPN) – which serves the English capital, South East and eastern regions and is owned by CK Infrastructure Holdings – demonstrated the sort of innovation which bagged the prize this week by announcing a trial of its ‘Constellation' smart grid project.

The pilot project, which has secured backing from the Network Innovation Competition fund operated by gas and electricity market regulator Ofgem, will see powerful computers installed at substations in UKPN's regional distribution grids. The facilities, which will communicate using the 5G broadband network, will be able to analyse millions of data points to free up network capacity and accommodate larger volumes of renewable energy.

In a press release issued yesterday to publicize the constellation project, UKPN said a national roll-out could free up 1.4 GW of grid capacity.

The power company was awarded best practice recognition in five of the seven areas analysed by SP Group when compiling the Smart Grid Index, including green energy and distributed energy resource integration. Citipower was the only utility in the top five not to secure best practice awards in either of those categories, although it was commended for monitoring and control; data analytics; supply reliability; and security.

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Barry Hatton, director of asset management at UK Power Networks, said: “When we published our Future Smart Strategy in 2018, we made a commitment to work closely with the industry and co-create new products and services to aid our transition to the electricity network of the future, and that commitment remains key to our success.

“We aim to be a leader in creation and collaboration to ensure we secure the low-carbon economy that’s best for society. By working collaboratively, sharing good practice and by keeping our customers at the heart of our approach, we aim to deliver a smart grid for all. We’re delighted that our work has been recognized on a global stage in the Smart Grid Index but we know there’s still a lot to do to transition from a distribution network operator to a distribution system operator.”

The index ranked 85 utilities across 37 global markets.

This copy was amended on 17/12/20 to indicate the Network Innovation Competition is run by regulator Ofgem, not U.K. electricity network operator National Grid, as previously reported.

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