22 March 2019


22 March 2019

Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for keeping the lights on for 3.9 million homes and businesses across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, has teamed up with engineering and design consultancy Arup,  to help manage losses from its power network by investigating the reuse of heat generated by its transformers.

Every day the region's electricity network loses electricity, put simply electrical losses are the difference between the electrical energy entering the network and the electrical energy exiting it, whilst unavoidable they can be reduced and managed.

The Northern Powergrid project builds upon the success of UK Power Network’s Bankside Project with Arup to recover heat from transformers as well as learning on the re-use of low grade heat being undertaken in industries and academic institutions.

A mapping and shortlisting process was completed based on agreed selection criteria and methods to identify potential candidates for the cost-benefit assessment. These included the loading data of the transformers to estimate the heat loss, as well as proximity to heat networks or local heat loads to utilise each substation's waste heat.

After the refinement of the shortlisting and loss estimation process, sites were selected for techno-economic appraisal, based on their ideal location to supply heat to adjacent sites (heat load) and also satisfying all other selection criteria.

The project concluded that although heat recovery from existing Northern Powergrid substations is technically achievable where local heat demands can be identified, it would not be commercially viable. Enhanced profitability and scheme viability is possible through the development of a novel-engineered heating system and a heat purchase agreement with sufficiently high tariffs. However, under current market conditions, ensuring the attractiveness of such a scheme would be challenging.

Mark Nicholson, Northern Powergrid's head of smart grid implementation, said: “The project was a useful practical investigation into the feasibility of applying such technology across our network is important and will help inform the debate on heat networks.”

Mark Anderson, distributed energy leader at Arup, said: “The strategic approach we took saved time and resources. Together, Arup and Northern Powergrid were able to quickly identify and focus on the most likely financially viable opportunities. This is an excellent example of heat recovery from industry for reuse in decentralised energy systems, a cornerstone of the UK Industrial Strategy.”

The project report can be viewed here