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  • Designing a future of fast frequency response


    HomeNational Grid is working with expert external partners developing an innovative monitoring and control system (MCS) that will test the capability of renewable energy technologies, such as wind farms, solar PV, energy storage and demand-side response (DSR), to help control frequency in the power system. This is how we measure the balance between electrical power generated and consumed - and it's an essential part of running a safe and reliable network.

    The innovative MCS will obtain accurate frequency data at a regional level, calculate the required rate and volume of very fast response, and then enable the initiation of this required response. The system will then be used to demonstrate the viability of obtaining rapid response from new technologies and the co-ordination of fast response across all technologies.

    This valuable data will be used to develop new balancing services, additional response capability, and the most cost-effective mix of responses across the Grid, allowing for effective management of system frequency.

    Our project will enable these to contribute without imposing increased risk on the security of the system.

    Why we're doing it

    Traditional thermal power stations such as gas and coal plants are called upon when swift action is required to maintain frequency. These large plants, which use rotating synchronous generators, actually provide a natural aid to achieving frequency stability because they provide inertia. Renewable technologies, however, such as converter-connected wind turbines and solar PV, don't provide this.

    So as the amount of generation from newer technologies increases, there will be a corresponding decrease in the level of system inertia. This is known to increase the risk of rapid changes to frequency which can affect the whole power system, causing severe faults or loss of load and generation. In the worst case, they can result in cascading events that lead to partial or total system blackout.

    NIC EFCC will open the door to more response being provided by newer, more sustainable energy solutions and could save National Grid and its customers £200m a year.

    How NIC EFCC is different

    NIC EFCC proposes a fresh approach to dealing with frequency incidents.

    The standard, business-as-usual approach to ensuring frequency stability when inertia is low is to use supply delivered by thermal power plants with high inertia. As the electricity landscape changes, this approach will become increasingly expensive and have a negative effect on the UK's environmental targets.

    Our project proposes an entirely new approach, where a smaller volume of rapid responses will be used after a system event. 

    We'll trial a method of monitoring and instructing response from a range of resources including DSR, large-scale, thermal generation, PV power plants (solar), energy storage and wind power.

    The methods being trialled will enable us to develop new balancing services and additional response capability in the Grid. It's a radical step to a brighter future.


    There are three streams to the project running simultaneously. Project partners will collaborate closely at all times.

    Stream 1 

    Development of the MCS by Alstom working closely with other partners. The MCS will calculate the required rate and volume of response at a regional level. 

    Stream 2

    We will demonstrate the frequency response capability of selected response providers. They will be connected to the MCS which will record measurements from the electricity system and instruct a response from these providers. The characteristics of the different methods of response will be investigated and demonstrated.

    Stream 3

    Having tested the capabilities of different response providers, we will demonstrate how they can be co-ordinated to provide the optimal response to system events. The project will be broken down into seven work packages and each one will see specific innovations being delivered.