National Grid ESO aims to forecast day-ahead reserve setting under new project

The new approach to scheduling reserve – the back-up power it keeps in readiness in case it is needed – seeks to boost the efficiency of balancing actions and improve value for consumers

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National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) and the Smith Institute are working together on a new project to develop an innovative approach to forecasting day-ahead reserve requirements.

The 12-month Dynamic Reserve Setting (DRS) project, funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance (NIA), aims to adopt a new, fully dynamic day-ahead approach to scheduling reserve – the back-up power it keeps in readiness in case it is needed – to boost the efficiency of balancing actions and improve value for consumers.

National Grid ESO currently sets reserve levels that vary according to electricity demand seen at different times of the day and week, with levels informed by historical generation and forecasting errors and adjusted by forecast renewable generation output.

It believes these reserve levels could potentially be optimised to take better account of the effect on the system of forecast weather conditions by linking generation and forecasting errors to weather-driven effects or other variables and buying reserve in day-ahead timescales.

The Smith Institute will develop a proof-of-concept machine learning model – expected in November 2021 – that will use predictor variables, such as temperature and wind forecast data, to create more accurate predictions of forecast errors to account for the variability in day-to-day weather.

It is expected to help National Grid ESO to better understand where there are uncertainties in its forecasting data and set reserve levels more accurately – potentially limiting the need to keep fossil fuel plants running as backup, reducing emissions and saving costs.

This supports its wider ambition to operate the electricity system with zero carbon by 2025.

Isabelle Haigh, Head of national control for National Grid ESO said: “As more clean energy connects to Britain’s electricity system, the network is becoming more challenging to operate. The more confidence and certainty we have in our forecasts, the more efficiently and securely we’ll be able to balance the country’s supply and demand day to day, minute by minute.

“Innovative developments like this are crucial if we’re to realise our zero carbon ambition. Collaboration is key and we look forward to working with the Smith Institute to develop our processes.”