Constellation, a smart substation trial from UK Power Networks (opens in new tab), will utilize Vodafone 5G connectivity to help make them more efficient, and enable the freeing up of capacity for clean energy, in a bid to help reach the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
UK Power Networks is the UK’s biggest electricity distributor, delivering power to more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East, and the East of England. (Electricity network operators, unlike energy suppliers, who focus on selling electricity, take care of the maintenance and operation of power lines and substations.)
“Working with Vodafone and our industry and academic partners, we are creating an exciting platform that keep our networks the smartest in the world,” said Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks. “We already have smart control rooms and smart electric vehicle chargers – developing smart substations in the middle will help us facilitate net zero and deliver real cost and carbon savings for our customers.”
The Constellation project
The Constellation project is a world-first in 5G use cases, and will connect parts of the UK’s electricity network with high-speed 5G connectivity, with computers being installed in electricity substations so they can communicate with each other in real-time to improve efficiency.
“Helping our customers achieve their ambitious net zero targets is an essential part of our strategy,” said Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK. “The team at UK Power Networks has seen the huge potential of 5G and network slicing. 5G is not only replacing older and more expensive technologies, it is bringing about new capabilities that benefit everyone – consumers, businesses and our environment. We are looking forward to working with UK Power Networks on this exciting and innovative project.”
Industry experts including General Electric, the University of Strathclyde, ABB and Siemens will develop and demonstrate software that can be used in the substations, enabling dynamic changes to be made to the electricity network.
Initially the Constellation project team will select multiple testing locations across UK Power Networks areas in the south-east of England, and at the University of Strathclyde’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre. And the companies say that it could save 63,702 tonnes of CO2 by 2050, which is the equivalent of 38,607 return flights from London to New York.