Innovative Communications System Pioneered on the Island
(Island Echo, 17th February 2017)
The Isle of Wight is benefiting from an innovative system that has helped more generation to connect on the Island whilst preventing it overloading the electricity network. The communications system used by one generator to connect to the Isle of Wight network was the first of its kind to be installed on Scottish and Southern Electricity Network’s (SSEN) electricity distribution network. By using a microwave link that is commonly used by mobile phone operators, the generator is able to receive signals from the system – known as an intertrip – which tells it to either continue generating power when the system is intact or to switch off if it is not. It has operated for 9 months now with excellent uptime performance.
This simple, fast and highly versatile technology is enabling generators to connect to networks that already have a lot of generation, whilst ensuring the grid doesn’t become overburdened when faults and outages occur. Another benefit for smaller generators, such as this one on the Island, is that the system can be up and running both quickly and cheaply as there are fewer external dependencies needed when installing microwave technology.
Restrictions are often placed on generators to ensure that the grid doesn’t become overloaded in times of lower requirement for electricity, so this new system could benefit many similar generation set-ups. The protection system was required by SSEN to control the electrical grid connection at the Stag Lane anaerobic digestion plant near Newport.
Steve Atkins, Lead Commercial Contract Manager at SSEN, explains:
“Connections to the electricity grid can be conditional on a protection system to ensure the continued safe operation of the electricity network for all users. We are pleased with the success to date of the microwave link which other connection customers may wish to consider when implementing their protection systems.”
Fredrik Adams, Managing Director of Firglas, who developed the Stag Lane biogas plant, said: “We were pleased that the SSEN System Planning and Protection team were prepared to pilot this communication system. The solution enabled us to get the plant commissioned sooner, with fewer external dependencies which was attractive to us.”
Trevor Cook, Managing Director of Wight Wireless, which provides superfast broadband connections to hundreds of homes and businesses across the Isle of Wight, added: “The system, which was designed by Wight Wireless and Firglas, met the stringent performance criteria and testing regime set by SSEN’s rigorous protection team. The measured latency was more than ten times faster than the target performance and the fastest measured by the protection team thus far. I am pleased that we are supporting this pioneering link for our customer.”