Oct 22, 2020

Power Potential starts live trial

Dominic Ellis
4 min
An eight-week technical trial with generators will be followed by a 12-week trial of live commercial markets, which is scheduled to finish in March 2021
An eight-week technical trial with generators will be followed by a 12-week trial of live commercial markets, which is scheduled to finish in March 2021...

Power Potential has started a live trial in a bid to create more capacity on the national transmission system, develop potential new income streams for energy generators and save energy consumers over £400m by 2050.

Established by UK Power Networks and National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), Power Potential's objective is to distribute energy resources connected to the local electricity network to provide "the only market-based reactive power source" to the national electricity system.

The trial is split in two, comprising an eight-week technical trial with generators, followed by a 12-week trial of live commercial markets, which is scheduled to finish in March 2021. The project delivers on its aim to be more than just a theoretical proof-of-concept, as it already integrates with UK Power Networks’ live network management system and customer systems.  Subject to a successful trial, work will continue to explore how the local and national electricity networks can collaborate further around reactive power services to address system management challenges. 

Power Potential was established to help manage the rapid increase in the volume of renewable energy connecting to distribution networks without breaching safe limits. The south and east of England has seen a significant rise in distributed energy resources in the last decade, with more than 7GW of generators now connected to its networks in London, the South East and East of England - almost as much as the UK’s entire nuclear power output - and Power Potential aims to add 4GW of power to these energy-hungry regions.

The latest trial follows a series of short trials involving individual generators and is the first time that the full system has been trialed in a live environment with multiple generators. The project uses a Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS) developed by ZIV Automation. UK Power Networks has integrated DERMS into its control room to facilitate the service instructed by the ESO.

The general shift in balance of generation from transmission to distribution means the ESO is seeking new ways to manage voltage and system stability. By using generators on the distribution network to support national voltage control, co-ordination between the generators and network operators can be part of the solution.

Up until now voltage on the national transmission system has been controlled by a combination of power electronics and support from larger generators. By connecting more distributed energy sources as new sources of voltage control, it’s anticipated that current constraints on the system can be better managed, making it more stable and affordable to run, while creating new opportunities for distributed energy businesses.

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks said: “Power Potential is truly transformative innovation because it’s fundamentally changing the way we do business and interact with the national transmission system. We’re creating a whole new market for renewable energy providers because it’s what they have asked us to do, and a way to reduce the cost of the whole electricity system to customers.”

“This is arguably the most ambitious innovation project happening across the UK energy system right now, and to get to this stage is testament to the collaboration and dedication of an outstanding team of specialists at UK Power Networks, ZIV Automation and National Grid ESO.”

Dr Biljana Stojkovska, Power Potential project lead at National Grid ESO, said: “The start of the Power Potential trials marks an important milestone for this world-first innovation project, which aims to create a new reactive power market for distributed energy resources. Through our collaborative approach with partners we’re applying groundbreaking engineering and economics principles to understand what’s happening in the power system and to unlock its unexploited potential.

“We look forward to the next stage of the project during which we’ll get some more detailed insight into what the trial data is telling us. And we cannot do this alone. Together with our project partners we’ll gain important knowledge to support future innovation in reactive markets and ancillary services.”

Adrian Kearney, Managing Director of ZIV Automation UK said: “This is a truly innovative project and a major milestone in creating and delivering new flexible services. ZIV is delighted to provide the core technology platform responsible for forecasting and dispatching the aggregated support services to the transmission grid. It’s a credit to the entire project team to achieve such a significant result during these challenging times.”

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Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

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