How to Ensure Grid Constraints Don’t Impact on your Energy Projects

Balancing the energy trilemma fundamentals of security of supply, sustainability, and cost effectiveness has seen many organisations turn to new technologies to allow them to better address these requirements.

However, with installations such as rapid Electric Vehicle (EV) charging requiring huge power demands, it is increasingly common that these plans risk being derailed by grid constraints. Congestion on a part of the transmission network can result in severe disruption, meaning that any project that risks increasing that congestion may be declined by your Distribution Network Operator (DNO).

National Grid themselves have acknowledged that the rapid growth of distributed, renewable generation will increase grid constraints as infrastructure equipment reaches its safe capacity to carry energy. A range of measures to alleviate constraints are being rolled out, but these concerns can still easily derail new projects that require a new or increased grid connection.

Distribution network operators

Your Distribution Network Operator (DNO) is responsible for managing the transmission grid in your area. One of their key priorities is to ensure that any changes to an end-user’s site demand do not compromise the security of supply for other customers. For large projects such as rapid EV charging, you will require permission from your DNO to progress the project. If the increase in your demand is likely to exceed your authorised supply capacity, or otherwise cause issues for their ability to supply an area with reliable power, your DNO may decline your application.

An increase in your site demand is not the only issue that could result in a project being declined due to grid constraint concerns. Distributed generation is one of the primary drivers of DNO’s concerns surrounding power resilience. The UK’s transmission grid is increasingly archaic and was never designed for the complex balancing act needed to marry widespread, distributed generation with demand. If your DNO feels that your excess generation could cause disruption to your local grid, again they may decline permission for your proposed project.

Dealing with grid constraints

Fortunately, even if the worst happens and your proposed project is declined, there are alternative options to turn to. A battery energy storage system (BESS) may offer the ideal solution, whether your project has an issue with increased demand or excess generation.

For a high-demand project such as rapid EV chargers, a battery energy storage system allows the huge increase in demand when a vehicle is charging to be balanced much more effectively. Rather than drawing exclusively from your grid connection, power stored in a battery can be used to make up some or all of this additional power. This ensures that your site does not exceed your authorised capacity. Crucially, for securing permission for a project of this type from your DNO, digital modelling and simulation of the system before installation can demonstrate that it will not risk disruption to your local supply.

BESS can function in a similar way to manage the power generated on-site. A complex mix of generation and consumption results in multiple power flows across a site. This can make changes or additions to your energy infrastructure difficult to quantify in terms of changes in total demand, or if some generation will spill back onto the grid. A battery energy storage system can provide an important failsafe in this scenario, allowing power to be accessed or stored to meet fluctuations in the demand without placing sudden stress on grid supply.

The ability to accurately assess projects beforehand is often a crucial aspect of securing permission. In extreme cases with complex, multi-vector systems, it could be that only a very rare combination of internal and external factors could cause a failure that impacts on your local transmission network. Accurate modelling and simulation of a proposed system is increasingly being used to identify and rectify these issues before a system is commissioned. In doing so, you can demonstrate confidently to your DNO that you will not risk impacting on your local transmission network.

The reason that DNO’s may turn down a proposed infrastructure project is because of growing concerns surrounding power resilience. As more demand and generation alike is added to the grid, the risk of disruption to your supply grows. This brings with it significant threats to your productivity, profitability, and safety.

As well as allowing you to navigate grid constraints, a BESS also provides site-wide power resilience through Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capabilities. This protects not only critical equipment, but your entire site and equipment against any disruption caused by grid transmission issues. A proposed project being turned down by your DNO could be indicative of a local network that is already overloaded. As a result, ensuring power resilience is particularly important as your DNO may already be struggling to reliably balance demand with generation.

Using battery storage as a buffer can help to unlock power infrastructure projects that otherwise would be turned down over grid constraint concerns.

To find out more about how a battery energy storage system could help your organisation circumnavigate grid constraints to achieve its energy goals, speak to one of our team.