Despite a frosty start, the group gathered enthusiastically over hot coffee for what promised to be a very informative an enjoyable day. Our guide was Nick Easton, an old hand at the National Grid and one of only a few senior power systems managers (the people who sit in the hot seat and run the control room).
Nick’s initial presentation on the National Grid got somewhat side-tracked with a plethora of questions. However, unphased by the bombardment, Nick kindly took the time to discuss all facets of their UK and US operations in some detail. We learned about the changing challenges of adapting the grid to renewables, altering demand requirements and new market developments. We also explored how the DNO to DSO transition is developing, and what plans NG have for the future.
After a truly delicious lunch, the group was treated to a guided tour of the control room. It is great to be able to look at a picture now and actually know how the map works, and what all the various monitors, control desks and stations do. Nick explained Month ahead, week ahead, day ahead and hour ahead planning as well as how they run simulations and monitor current network health. Not much going on in there then!
On the way out we dwelled for some time over a timeline of photographs showing the control centre from its earliest incarnation to the ‘bond villain’ lair of today.
Heartfelt thanks to The Master for arranging such an excellent day, to the National Grid for their generous hospitality, and in particular Nick Easton for taking rather more than the allotted time to answer our many questions.
By Iain Beveridge