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How Flexibility can Save you From Costly Network Upgrades






As a wide range of organisations face mounting pressures to balance decarbonisation with power resilience and cost-effective energy, many are investing in new technologies that are able to contribute to these different objectives.

At the same time, increased digitisation, and new, often power-intensive technologies such as the various advances in manufacturing collectively known as ‘Industry 4.0’ can all increase a site’s total power demand. As well as potentially increasing your energy costs as wholesale gas and electricity prices remain close to historic highs, this additional demand also risks exceeding the total power available from your grid connection.

Grid connection costs

Increasing your site’s total available capacity is rarely as simple as just talking to your supplier or Distribution Network Operator (DNO). Your Agreed Supply Capacity (ASC) is the amount of power that your DNO is contractually obliged to provide to your site at any time, and is typically capped with a maximum capacity allowance. Implementing new technology or infrastructure that exceeds that maximum capacity can prove prohibitively expensive in a number of ways. Failing to address exceeding your ASC results in excess charges on the power you use above your limit, generally two of three times the amount of your standard rate for every kVa you go over each month.

While simply exceeding your supply capacity can add significantly to your monthly energy costs, in practice the problem can be much more impactful. Distribution networks are increasingly constrained, and often the excess power you require simply isn’t available, even if you are willing to take the financial hit. Your DNO isn’t obliged to provide any more than your ASC, and if there is a risk of this putting additional strain on your local network they will typically refuse. Even in cases where significant additional power is available, your own infrastructure and connection to the grid may not be up to the task. One report put the cost of a new grid connection at anywhere between £100,000/MW and £1.7 million/MW.

Solving the problem

If your DNO turns down your application for increased power capacity, one solution many organisations consider is to generate power on-site instead. While this can be a good solution, it also presents a number of potential pitfalls.

The first is the question of what happens to excess generated power. If your installed generation is only needed to meet peak site demand, but continues to generate around the clock, your solution may be to export excess power back to the grid. However, if your distribution network is constrained, this can be turned down over the same resilience concerns that sees increased demand declined: unacceptable levels of stress on local network infrastructure. Even if approved, on-site generation that is called upon only to meet your peak site demand, which may only be 10%, 5% or even 1% of the time, is not a particularly cost-effective solution.

A better solution is to be more intelligent with how you balance power demand and usage across a site. Whether you are trying to incorporate new demand, such as rapid EV charging or new manufacturing equipment, or new generation like rooftop solar, balancing peaks and troughs in demand on-site prevents the need to rely on potentially expensive changes to your grid infrastructure or ASC.

A battery energy storage system (BESS) is ideal for this, allowing excess power to be stored rather than exported, and utilised to meet peaks in demand when required. Even when just adding additional demand, a BESS can still help to unlock projects otherwise turned down over grid constraint fears. High demand technology such as rapid EV charging can use stored energy in a battery to buffer their increased demand, preventing your site exceeding your ASC and appeasing any concerns your DNO may have over your site placing additional strain on your distribution network.

Powerstar’s battery storage technology not only provides you with the flexibility to better manage your on-site power, it also offers a host of additional benefits. Instantaneous Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capabilities protect your entire site in the case of any power disruption, while intelligent energy management software allows your entire site to operate as a smart microgrid. Leading digital modelling and simulation technology means that we can ensure your chosen solution works as intended across a wide range of scenarios before installation even begins. Collectively, this is known as Resilience+.

Read more about our technologies and their benefits


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