September 2021

Featured Speaker: Michael Walsh, Chief Commercial Officer, Smart Wires

Modular power flow control provides a uniquely effective approach to help renewable generation developers and asset owners address their most challenging transmission needs. The modern, power-electronics-based version of these devices, built upon decades of grid experience, helps balance network flows by pulling or pushing power through capacitive or inductive voltage injection. When new generation seeks grid interconnection, it routinely requires network upgrades to enable firm export of power. Under business-as-usual transmission planning strategies, these upgrades can be extensive because much of the grid was not designed for distributed, intermittent, renewable generation. Reconductors, substation refurbishments or new lines are all costly, traditional solutions that can take many years to complete due to permitting and other challenges. Yet significant latent capacity exists in most networks around the world, a recent study by the Brattle Group highlights how this technology can dramatically improve the scale of renewable generation integration in the Southwest Power Pool network. Modular power flow control has proven to help utilities plan and operate their grid to leverage this capacity, enabling new generation to be connected must faster and more cost-effectively – supporting regulatory targets while benefiting ratepayers and developers alike. In a recent deployment with National Grid Electric Transmission in the UK, modular power flow control enabled 1.5 GW of renewable generation to access the London metro area by increasing utilization of the existing transmission capacity. Solutions like this one allow rapid deployment scaling, in line with phased generation connection, further reducing upfront capital burden on developers. These standard offerings can generally be installed in 1 year or less, alleviating thermal overload-induced congestion to improve the financial feasibility of previously uneconomic renewable energy projects.

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