Northern Powergrid unveils new power restoration vans

Northern Powergrid is developing electric vans with on-board energy storage systems which aim to replace noisy and polluting diesel generators during power cuts and planned works.
Northern Powergrid is developing electric vans with on-board energy storage systems which aim to replace noisy and polluting diesel generators during power cuts and planned works.

Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for the electricity distribution network in Yorkshire, northern Lincolnshire and the North East, has teamed up with two British energy storage SMEs to run a trial which could revolutionise temporary power restoration in the UK.

In partnership with Hyperdrive Innovation and Offgrid Energy, Northern Powergrid is developing electric vans with on-board energy storage systems which aim to replace noisy and polluting diesel generators during power cuts and planned works.

The two-year Silent Power project is the UK’s first low-carbon innovation trial to provide a sustainable solution to restoring supplies to customers who have a power cut.

The new solution works better with distributed energy generation, including domestic solar PV systems.

The Silent Power project will send electric vans with on-board lithium ion batteries to restore power to up to three homes or a small community centre for 24 hours. Training was completed earlier this year and the first vehicle will be on the streets this month.

Diesel generators cannot be deployed to homes that export as well as consume power, and some areas also have access issues and generators cause air and sound pollution. Silent Power was launched to find a quiet and cleaner alternative to enable Northern Powergrid to reach more customers in need. The electric vans’ batteries are silent during operation.

The electricity from the Silent Power batteries aims to be more reliable than diesel generators, which can trip out – a particular problem where customers have their own domestic generation, typically rooftop solar.

Northern Powergrid currently deploys more than 2,500 diesel generators annually to provide temporary power restoration during planned and unplanned power cuts each year.

More than 20 per cent of Northern Powergrid’s customer-base is on the Priority Services Register – a service provided by suppliers and network operators to customers who may need extra support in a power cut – and 12 per cent of those on the register are medically dependent on electricity.

Patrick Erwin policy and markets director at Northern Powergrid, said: “There is considerable opportunity for Silent Power to reduce the impact of power cuts for vulnerable people across our region, while also improving the air we all breathe and reducing noise pollution.

“This is just one way we are demonstrating our commitment to ensuring the energy transition works for all people across our society – not just those that can afford the latest technology.”

During the two-year trial, Northern Powergrid hopes to see a reduction in overall CO2 output when compared with current generators. It plans to share the findings with its fellow electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) across the UK, as they continue the transition to become increasingly active Distribution System Operators (DSO).

Stephen Irish, commercial director of Hyperdrive, said: “The UK battery and storage industry is booming and we are now starting to identify ways in which the lives of everyday people can be enhanced with technology like ours.

“Projects like Silent Power are bringing bold British innovation to the doorstep of every household and we are proud to be involved. In these uncertain times it’s reassuring that this blossoming high-tech sector can not only drive UK jobs and growth, but can become the backbone of community support delivered by the team at Northern Powergrid.”

Danny Jones, director of OffGrid Energy, added: “The Silent Power project has been a great opportunity to take our low-carbon power solutions to another level, adding a further dimension in driving out emissions from the electricity networks.

“Working with Northern Powergrid has been a great experience for us at Off Grid, where their vision and support has enabled us to push boundaries in ways that would not have otherwise been possible.”