The National Grid in a World of Changing Electricity Consumption
Brief History of British Energy
Ever since Prime Minster Stanley Baldwin announced in 1926 that he wanted Britain to become a land of cheap and abundant energy, free flowing power has become essential to modern life. There are rightly serious concerns over energy consumption in the United Kingdom especially when we consider that nuclear power stations are coming to the end of their life, significant amounts of nuclear and coal fuelled capacity are set to be retired between now and 2016 and the ever declining gas supplies.
So what is being done to challenge this? Despite the growing investment in sustainable energy sources, policy makers seem to accept that British modern life relies on free flowing power. The National Grid has developed the STOR program to in effect ensure that demand is met without wasting energy unnecessarily.
Electricity: Where would we be without it?
Electricity in the 1920’s was unreliable, rare and highly expensive for the average householder. The Government started the National Grid to help alleviate these problems but also to match both France and Germany who by the early 1920’s had relatively sophisticated energy supplies.
Just 85 years ago coal and gas ruled, with just 6% of households having any access to an electricity supply. Electricity was once expensive for the average householder and was highly unpredictable. Before the implementation of the National Grid, voltages would often vary from street to street. The Electricity Supply Act of 1926 was the single biggest peacetime construction project that Britain had ever seen. The National Grid consists of 4,000 miles of transmission cable, connecting the 122 most efficient power stations in the country.
So what does the future hold for the National Grid? The period from now and 2030 is covered by legislation on renewable energy and carbon emissions. By 2050, 15% of Britain’s energy will come from renewable sources. With that in mind, is the STOR program a green solution to the country’s rising dependence on the National Grid?
What is STOR and why is it needed?
‘STOR capacity has been calculated to double in the coming decade from 4GW to 8Gw.’
The National Grid introduced the Short Term Operating Reserve in 2007 to provide rapid resources to the electrical grid as a way of responding to the challenges of a sudden increase or reduction in the demand for energy across the United Kingdom. The system is one of the National Grids most important tools for securing the national electricity system in real time. The Grid pays a rent for STOR capacity and pays a usage charge to the company when the reserve is needed.
STOR is an innovative service, whereby the service provider delivers a contracted level of power when instructed by the National Grid. The STOR program allows for the provision of additional active power from generators to increase or reduce demand.
Companies offer the National Grid power in two forms; Committed and Flexible. Committed service providers undertake to offer service availability in all of the required availability windows in each of the seasons. Companies who accept the tender commit to buying all services offered.
Flexible service providers are not obliged to offer services in all availability windows and with that the National Grid is not obliged to accept and buy all the services offered.
What you need to get involved
At certain times of the day the National Grid needs to reserve power in the form of either generation or demand reduction to be able to deal with actual demand being greater than forecast.
A STOR provider must be able to:
- Offer a minimum of 3MW or more of generation or steady demand reduction (this can be from more than one site)
- Deliver full MW within 240 minutes or less from receiving instructions from National Grid
- Provide full MW for at least 2 hours when instructed
- Have a Recovery Period after provision of Reserve of not more than 1200 minutes (20 hours)
- Be able to provide STOR at least 3 times a week.