World-first grid technology helps enable zero-carbon grid in the UK

World’s largest continuously operating grid-scale ultracapacitor (UK)
The world’s largest continuously operating grid-scale ultracapacitor

UK and Finnish grid technology company Reactive Technologies has launched its flagship grid stability measurement service with National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) following the construction of the world’s largest continuously operating grid-scale ultracapacitor.

It represents the largest deployment of Reactive’s GridMetrix solution as the business expands its proven technology beyond the UK into other markets facing similar decarbonisation challenges.

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As grids transition away from centralised, fossil fuel-dominated generation to smart, distributed and clean energy, technologies like GridMetrix that provide instantaneous data instead of relying on estimates are needed to manage system stability. The service will help ESO to improve the efficiency and value to consumers of grid balancing actions, and will mark a key step towards its ambition to be able to operate a 100 per cent zero carbon electricity system by 2025.

Constructed by Spanish technology group Ingeteam, the ultracapacitor will send pulses of power through the grid like the underwater sound waves used in sonar, enabling ESO to accurately measure power system stability. Once live, the system operator will have an enhanced real time view of inertia (the force generated by spinning mass that keeps the grid’s frequency stable), a critical capability as the proportion of renewable energy in Britain’s energy mix continues to grow.

The UK’s progress with decarbonisation over the last decade is a highly relevant example for countries around the world embarking on their own energy transition. Located in Teesside’s clean energy hub, the ultracapacitor sits only a few miles up the coast from where the power cables of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Dogger Bank, will reach landfall and provide power for over five million homes. With significant increases in renewable capacity and grid infrastructure required to meet Britain’s 2035 zero carbon objectives, both these projects are fundamental symbols of the UK’s ambition to achieve its decarbonisation targets.

2021 has been a transformational year for Reactive, in which it also closed a record fundraising round from a group of global investors including the Bill Gates-backed clean energy fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures, BGP and Eaton. As an independent clean technology company specialised in inertia, Reactive is well-poised to export its technology globally and support grids around the world in unlocking renewables growth and accelerating their transition to zero carbon energy systems.

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Reactive Technologies CEO Marc Borrett said: “The commercial adoption of GridMetrix by National Grid is a significant milestone in the journey of our technology from a conceptual innovation to a proven and fundamental grid management solution. The challenges facing Britain on its net zero journey are familiar to grids across the world and with the support of our strategic investors and partners, we are extremely excited to help unlock as many 100 per cent renewable grids around the world as possible, accelerating the global transition to a clean energy system.”