Silent Power: Electric vans promise clean back up power for vulnerable customers –

Northern Powergrid launches pioneering smart grid trial, where electric vans replace diesel generators as back up power supplies

Technology that promises more reliable and less polluting back-up power in the event of localise power cuts could soon be available to people in north east England if trials by the electricity network distribution operator prove successful.

Northern Powergrid, the electricity distribution network that powers the North East, Yorkshire, and northern Lincolnshire, announced last week that it has partnered with two energy storage specialists to pilot the electric vans that double up as replacements for diesel generators.

Dubbed Silent Power, the two year project will see the company deploy electric vans that boast on-board energy storage systems.

The vans are capable of providing electricity for up to three homes for at least 24 hours during power cuts and planned maintenance work.

Northern Powergrid hopes the technology could replace some of the the 2,500 diesel generators it deploys each year, leading to carbon emission, air pollution, and noise.

Hyperdrive, a designer and manufacturer of lithium-ion battery systems, and Offgrid Energy, which develops hybrid generator systems, are to collaborate with Northern Powergrid on the project.

The team have already created a prototype 40kVA battery inverter generator unit, which is contained within a single vehicle.

The developers argue that the vans are more reliable and mobile than conventional generators and as such are particularly well suited to hard-to-reach areas.

They also integrate more effectively with domestic energy generation such as solar PV, which can cause diesel generators to trip out, the company said.

Northern Powergrid hopes the technology will benefit vulnerable people in particular, who sometimes cannot be supported with diesel generators due to the localised pollution they cause.

Northern Powergrid says that more than 20 per cent of its eight million customers needs extra support in a power cut, with 12 per cent of these medically dependent on electricity.

The electricity distributor plans to share the findings of the trial with its counterparts in other regions of the UK.

Ross McFarlane, innovation project manager for Northern Powergrid, said: “Alongside the direct customer benefit, we are very excited by the wider positive environmental impact of this trial.

“Many industries need temporary power supplies, if this can be shared across other sectors, we have another way to bring more renewable sources into our energy mix.”

Stephen Irish, commercial director of Hyperdrive, said the project provided further evidence of how energy storage technologies can deliver multiple applications.

“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,” he said. “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 its 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.”

Separately, National Grid last week predicted that the UK could break more records for renewable energy penetration across the grid if this winter’s weather follows a similar pattern to that experienced last year.

The operator’s Winter Outlook Report also stated that both gas and electricity supplies were secure for the winter, and that it had tested “a broad range of scenarios” for when the UK leaves the EU and predicted no operational problems.

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