Developing ESB Networks and NIE Networks Capacity Maps

ESB Networks Technician

The Challenge

Accommodating increasing amounts of renewable generation connections and the increasing demand associated with the electrification of heat and transport is a major challenge for both NIE Networks and ESB Networks as we transition to a low carbon future.

While some areas of the distribution network are operating below maximum capacity levels, large sections of the network are constrained due the voltage, thermal and fault level issues which require significant network investment to overcome.

Customers making application for new generation or demand connections have no visibility of such information. As a result, some grid connection offers can have significant cost or delivery dates built-in due to the need to alleviate network constraints and accommodate increased generation or demand at the point of connection to the network.

If customers had access to up-to-date information on network capacity, highlighting areas where there is available capacity and allowing them to make a more informed decision around where to connect, this could streamline the connection process and facilitate the connection of increased generation and load to achieve the 2030 climate change targets.

The Solution

ESB Networks and NIE Networks have separately developed interactive web-based maps to provide this information to customers, showing available network capacity within geographic areas right down to primary MV substation level. This map shows capacity on the transmission and distribution system and primary substations for demand, generation and fault level (NIE Networks).

NIE Networks Capacity Map

https://www.nienetworks.co.uk/connections/capacity-map

ESB Networks Capacity Map 

https://www.esbnetworks.ie/network-capacity-map

The Benefits

Through the development of both capacity maps, users can navigate around and select any primary substation or bulk supply point substation within Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to see capacity information, along with details of the particular sub-station and transformers.

The capacity map allows customers to quickly and easily review capacity for load and generation connections in various geographic areas. This means a customer can see the likelihood of an application being successful before going through the timely and costly application process. It also gives connection staff an easy look up tool for customer inquiries.

The Future

Capacity Maps are an essential tool to facilitate increased renewable generation connection with this offering part of a range of self-service tools being provided to customers to help them make informed decisions about connecting to the electricity network.