Stress testing has been carried out on Enel’s network and power plant operations in a series of infrastructure simulations, tests and verifications to prepare employees to deal with potential issues. “Enel’s global task force constantly monitors the country-wide news on COVID-19 and uses it to suggest the necessary actions that need to be taken to guarantee service continuity,” Das adds.
In the UK, ensuring the security and reliability of the network falls to National Grid ESO (electricity system operator). “Great Britain’s system is one of the most reliable in the world,” says Roisin Quinn, the organisation’s chief engineer and head of national control. “But we can’t be complacent, and we’ve been working with industry to explore additional options to help us to manage the unprecedented situation.”
As a result, National Grid ESO recently put in place three new initiatives to help balance out supply and demand. First, it has agreed what Quinn describes as a “one off, fixed-term” contract with EDF to reduce the output from the supplier’s Sizewell B nuclear power station.
Secondly, it has drawn up what it calls the Optional Downward Flexibility Management (ODFM) programme, which Quinn says is “a new voluntary service for small-scale renewable generators to receive payments from the ESO if we ask them to turn down or turn off their generation of electricity”. She adds: “This service will give our control room additional options to manage the transmission network by reducing the amount of electricity supplied at the local, distribution network level.”
Roles and responsibilities
And finally, National Grid ESO has also clarified the powers it holds with suppliers, such as smaller scale windfarms. Through what is known as the Grid Code, the organisation already had the power to instruct suppliers to reduce supply, but it has now reminded companies of the fact to ensure that “everyone is clear on the roles and responsibilities”, says Quinn, adding: “This process would only be deployed in the unlikely event of an emergency situation and is there to help ensure that, even in such cases, we maintain supply of electricity.”