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SP Energy Networks awarded £10 million to develop digital twin of electricity network

SP Energy Networks has been awarded £10 million to create a digital twin of the electricity network to test future demand.

The funds, which have been provided by Prosperity Partnership Fund by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will create a digital replica of the electricity network to enable the testing of digital solutions to determine how increased electricity demand could impact the grid.

In a statement, SP Energy Networks said that the digital twin will utilise AI, “state of the art technology” and be dubbed ENSIGN, which stands for ENergy System dIGital twiN.

Digital twins have been touted as a potential technology to help policymakers and industry players make informed decisions on the electricity system via a replica. This analysis was backed up by Energy Systems Catapult which released a report in February 2023 indicating that digital twin technologies could be used by government and regulators to develop possible future policies.

The ENSIGN technology has been developed in collaboration with leading Scottish universities – Strathclyde, Glasgow, Heriot Watt and St Andrews and aims to help identify the best ways to optimise capacity and incorporate green energy technologies onto the network.

This is becoming of upmost importance as homes and businesses make the switch to cleaner and greener fuels on the road to net zero emissions.

The technology helps find options for managing increased electricity demand on an energy network platform via a variety of technology. This then allows SP Energy Networks to identify best practice and solutions that can be deployed in real-life to deliver an effective energy network for the future.

“The pace of change in the energy industry is like nothing we’ve ever seen so it’s vital we can stress-test tech and services to identify the best solutions and ensure the network remains fit for purpose as we move towards an all-electric future,” said Scott Mathieson, network planning and regulation director at SP Energy Networks.

“This new ‘digital twin’ will allow us to simulate innovations and understand the potential benefits of new services in a whole new light, giving us meaningful insights that will directly impact what we do in the real world. To do that, we’re partnering with some of the world’s most renowned universities and bringing together the best minds and machinery to create something truly unique, which is really exciting.

“The insights from this project will help shape the future of the energy system in the UK and offer the potential to transform the energy grids of countries around the world. Having the support of the Prosperity Partnership enables us to drive this industry-leading project to create a cleaner, greener and better future, quicker, for everyone.”

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