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ITI Energy and a consortium involving global power systems and services company Rolls-Royce, international energy company ScottishPower and Strathclyde University are to explore the development of new technology to actively manage power distribution networks.
The project has the potential to deliver an active network management system that allows more flexible and more cost-effective implementation of distributed generation and demand-side management. This could also mitigate the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades and reduce capacity constraints in existing networks. Electricity networks globally are facing a period of unprecedented change. Ageing assets, more localised distribution, and the need for improved security and quality of supply and increasing energy efficiency are forcing network operators and equipment suppliers to think differently about how they meet these demands. At a smaller scale, the complexity of ‘islanded networks’, such as electric ships or planes, requires similar ‘smart’ network management technologies.

However, this requires substantial amounts of capital and even the latest technologies have difficulty in dealing with intermittent renewable sources like wind and new technologies such as fuel cells. New technologies that can meet these demands have the potential to create significant impact globally. The R&D project will explore technology developments that are specifically targeting public distribution networks. If the initial phase demonstrates the potential to develop unique intellectual property the project could ultimately see ITI Energy investing in excess of £10 million over the next 5 to 10 years in this area. The agreement within the consortium allows for additional research and commercialisation partners to be added into the project as more in-depth detailed understanding of specific device solutions develop.
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