Parsons Brinckerhoff is to lead a consortium to carry out a detailed analysis of Great Britain’s electricity distribution network.

The study is being carried out on behalf of the UK’s Energy Networks Association (ENA) and aims to ensure the network’s design and operation in 2030 will be capable of maximising the benefits of new ‘smart technologies’ and of efficiently facilitating the growing number of low carbon connections, including small scale renewable technology.

The project was awarded to the Parsons Brinckerhoff consortium – which includes the University of Manchester, PPA Energy, Chiltern Power and Grid Scientific – by the ENA, and also provides a strategic focus on the latest technical innovations and best practice.

ENA chief executive David Smith, said: "As the UK moves towards a sustainable energy future our distribution networks will need to adapt if they are to continue delivering a reliable and affordable service.

“New technologies will provide solutions, but they also will pose new challenges for network companies, regulators and other stakeholders."

The consortium’s work, which will be published in late summer 2015, will involve detailed technical modelling of a range of network scenarios to understand how the distribution network will need to adapt to reflect changing demands.

The study will focus on four representative network configurations chosen to cover a range of characteristics: a typical rural network; an urban network; and two forms of interconnected networks, one supplying a town with suburbs and the other supplying an area within a major city.

The study results will help the country’s distribution and transmission network companies plan their deployment of smart technologies to ensure the most cost-effective and secure outcomes for the future. The findings will also be of considerable interest to other stakeholders including the government, academia, customers, and supply chain companies.

Sian Crampsie