Active Network Management (ANM) is a system that allows network operators to control and alter the output of generators connected to their network. An ANM system generally consists of three pieces of hardware: a central ‘brain’ that sits in the network operators control room and has the ability to send instructions to generators to change their output; a monitoring piece of equipment that sits somewhere on the network, sending network information (such as power flows and available capacity) to the central system; and a control piece of equipment that sits at the generation site and enacts the instructions sent by the central ‘brain’ i.e. reduce/increase output.
The primary benefit of installing an ANM scheme is that it will allow generators to connect to the network quicker (sometimes years ahead of schedule), and generally at a lower cost. Often, different areas of the network cannot cope with additional generation being connected unless there are infrastructure upgrades (additional pylons, higher rated Transformers etc). An ANM scheme will allow additional generation to connect to the network without network reinforcements as it will manage the output of the connected generation, allowing the network operator to lower output from the generation sites when the capacity on the network is reaching its limit. The trade-off for the connecting generator is therefore: I can connect to the network quicker and at a cheaper cost (as the costs of the network reinforcement will not be passed onto me), however, at times of potential capacity overload, the output at my site will be reduced, with no financial compensation.
ANM schemes are currently deployed across Great Britain, with five of the six Distribution Network Operators (DNO’s) currently operating a live ANM scheme. SP Energy Networks are working to install a highly innovative ANM scheme in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland that will not only allow generators to connect to the network early, but will also utilise Distribution network connected generators to solve Transmission network issues (click on the links to find out more information on the differences between the Distribution and Transmission networks). The implementation of ANM schemes by DNO’s is an important step in their transition to a Distribution System Operator (DSO). Having the ability to control and dispatch generation will allow them to utilise generation sites who can provide flexibility services to them as they seek to manage their network.