Statnett has tested disconnection of loads as a system operation tool

16. January 2019 | News

In 2018, Statnett tested the remote disconnection of loads as a source of flexibility in Northern Norway as part of the ‘Large-Scale Load Management’ pilot project. THEMA’s evaluation concludes that the pilot was successful, although its scale was smaller than originally planned.

The remote disconnection of loads could be a useful tool in situations where the grid is under a lot of strain. At the same time, digitalisation and technical development is facilitating the utilisation of flexibility from smaller loads.

Statnett experiences network congestion in the Northern central grid particularly during storms and harsh weather. The goal of the ‘Large-Scale Load Management’ pilot was to test a concept for the remote disconnection of loads over short periods in Northern Norway. The use of flexible loads in power system operation requires a well-functioning technical communication and control system, as well as strong cooperation and clearly-defined roles and responsibilities across the actors involved.

The ‘Large-Scale Load Management’ pilot lasted from 2016 to 2018. THEMA was commissioned to evaluate the pilot, and this evaluation has now been published. The evaluation is based on interviews with the parties involved, in which they were asked to comment on their experiences and to assess Statnett’s overall achievement of the project’s goals and objectives.

Those involved included Balancing Responsible Parties (BRPs), providers of flexible loads and the supplier of the technical solution. eSmart acted as project lead, in addition to developing and supplying the technical solution. The BRPs for the relevant loads were the power utilities Ishavskraft and Statkraft. Ishavskraft had balancing responsibility for Alta municipality’s loads, while Statkraft had balancing responsibility for Alcoa Mosjøen.

Overall, we find the pilot project to have been a success. The technical solution worked as intended, and the loads were in most cases disconnected according to plan. The number and scope of disconnections were, however, reduced relative to the original plan, and loads were only disconnected under controlled conditions. The reduction in scope was partially caused by a lack of time, particularly in the planning phase. The pilot revealed the need for ample time and additional testing under real conditions in order to be able to disconnect flexible loads.

The parties involved would generally support similar initiatives by Statnett and would like to see a continuation of the pilot. This would allow for testing under more realistic operational conditions, i.e. during periods where the grid is under strain.

The affected grid companies where not directly involved in the pilot project, but there is unanimous agreement that their role in remote load management needs to be more clearly defined. In addition to being potential aggregators, grid companies are also potential future buyers of flexibility.

Read the report (in Norwegian): 

THEMA Rapport 2018-16 >> Evaluering av storskala laststyring

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Berit Tennbakk
Partner, PhD
+47 928 68 117