FPSA1: Future Power System Architecture – International Study

Published: 29 August 2017


The purpose of this international fact-finding study is to explore electrical power systems in other countries that are known to be facing similar system challenges to those we might envisage in future impacting the national GB power system.

The Future Power System Architecture project has used the findings of this study to inform its evidence base for justifying requirements and options for future electrical power system functions. The study has looked at the main system-level challenges facing the electrical power sectors of Germany, Ireland and regions of the US (with a high-level desktop study on South Korea). They correlate strongly with those facing the GB system, namely around:

  • Integration of large renewable generation sources (and a corresponding reduction in system inertia)
  • The growth in distribution-connected energy resources (distributed generation, electric vehicles, heat pumps, demand-side response, energy storage)
  • The trend towards microgrids, community energy systems and engaged customers
  • Greater interconnection with neighbouring grids, both alternating and direct current (AC and DC) technologies

It is widely recognised that the effects of these represent both threats and opportunities to the successful planning and operation of the respective power systems. The potential scale of the changes and their materiality has led to greater system-wide thinking for those power systems from both technical and policy perspectives.

Key points

  • The challenges faced by the GB electricity sector are similar to those faced in the other countries reviewed. However, none of them face all of them to a similar extent if we assume National Grid’s Gone Green scenario.
  • Many experts consulted expressed the need for greater system-wide planning and indicated that they believed the scale of changes anticipated represented a real risk to system resilience and reliability if not fully co-ordinated. Equally, the value that Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) can bring is being accepted. Policies in the countries reviewed are aimed at promoting and encouraging the adoption of DERs.
  • This review has identified a number of significant change programmes happening in these countries to meet these challenges.
  • There is evidence of greater central co-ordination and planning in the countries examined to ensure that system security is preserved and the value of DERs is fully realised. In California and New York, greater co-ordination is coming from the Independent System Operators (ISO) and Public Service Commissions. In Ireland, it is through a system operator/transmission owner (SO/TO) led, cross-industry working group.
  • Distribution systems are highlighted as facing the greatest challenges in defining and implementing comprehensive distribution management systems. In addition, these will need to integrate with ISO systems, home area networks (HAN), microgrid controllers, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and market mechanisms to name a few.
  • There are many new functions that are being developed across the sectors that will need to be incorporated, either into existing functions or through developing new ones. Examples include modelling of DERs, interconnection rules and standards, situational awareness, data exchange and common information models.