A SCOTTISH energy software provider has helped deliver a ground-breaking grid integration scheme in the US that could potentially double wind and solar generation connections by using an innovative new package that maximises network capacity.

Smart Grid Solutions delivered the Flexible Interconnect Capacity Solution (FICS) project in partnership with Avangrid, a leading sustainable energy company.

It has successfully connected three new 5MW PV solar farms in Spencerport, New York to Avangrid’s electric network using the Strata Grid Distributed Energy Resource Management System (Derms) platform.

A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Scots firm’s technology could increase grid hosting capacity by up to 200% – far beyond conventional technical limits and levels traditionally required for grid reinforcement.

Derms allows large-scale renewable energy producers to easily connect to a power network where previously the network was believed to be at full capacity.

Application of the tech significantly reduces grid integration costs compared to traditional connection costs and is believed to be the first of its kind in the US.

“Each of these three solar farms produce five megawatts of electricity – enough to potentially overload existing local grid capacity,” said Stuart McMahon, principal smart grid engineer at SGS.

“In the past, they would have initially been rejected from being able to connect to the grid until structural upgrades were made to increase this capacity and ensure a ‘firm’ interconnection.

“The costs of these upgrades are commonly the responsibility of the energy resource developer – costing millions of dollars and making many projects commercially and financially unviable.

“Our Derms technology allows large-scale producers of renewable energy resources like these to more efficiently connect to the electric power grid by removing this risk.

“The Strata Grid platform supports flexible interconnection agreements by applying real-time control capability to distributed energy resources – as demonstrated at the new solar farms in Spencerport.

“In a nutshell, it prevents additional renewable energy assets from overloading grid assets and, in doing so, optimises grid capacity whilst avoiding the upgrades and resulting costs that would be required under a firm interconnection.”

McMahon said the project had vast for the wider US and global energy market, and clearly demonstrates the cheaper, faster solutions available to energy developers.

Bob Manning, from Avangrid, added: “We’re proud to embrace and invest in new technologies and innovations, like the FICS project, that will enable the clean energy transformation.

“FICS enables us to utilise our grid assets to provide customer connections faster and at less expense than traditional alternatives.

“The demonstration of this innovative approach continues to provide us operational experience and data we need to start assessing where else in our networks this will provide value to our customers and how to deliver that. “We believe that FICS and other smart, innovative solutions will enable us to deliver what’s required to meet New York state’s ambitious 70% clean energy by 2030 goals.”