UKPN Services is keenly aware that a reliable and progressive rail network is only as good as its electrical infrastructure. Its credentials are well established and include the landmark construction of section 1 and 2 of High Speed One, a £130 million joint venture with Network Rail to upgrade power supplies in the south and project works on the Thameslink enhancement project.
As an integrated solutions business, UKPN Services can manage a client’s connections and power supplies and can also develop sustainable solutions to increase the value of a company’s assets and utilise energy from all sources.
The company’s aims and objectives can be summarised as a defined intelligent design and management platform, developing services on the basis of the lessons learnt from the application of smart grid technology. The base of the developing service philosophy is the application of modern asset management techniques coupled to robust design philosophy. The need to ally project engineering to modern economics is prime, while ensuring that equipment was not over-designed yet gives good performance and optimised reliability. The various facets of this process are best understood using a diagram illustrating how the various aspects can be combined into one robust product with the platform being the core and the surrounding balloons representing specialist inputs or drivers.
This is an innovative concept of Intelligent Design and Management. The platform encompasses an integrated solution, utilising modern technology applied responsibly in a smart manner. It covers all aspects from an idea and concept to implementation through the design, procurement, manufacturing, construction, operations and maintenance phases. The whole system life-cycle is implemented through the use of modern asset management techniques and tools.
That creative approach sets realistic economics alongside the technical aspects and risk management, linking cost and risks with benefits. It balances initial capital investment with on-going operational and maintenance costs and deals with risks which are, in consequence, managed safely.
Inputs and drivers
The first input is Advanced Power System Control. As one of the main drivers, this takes account of smart electrical grid technologies which, when applied to a railway distribution network, particularly in the area of automated switching, improves the overall system performance in terms of reliability i.e. frequency of failure and duration of outages. This modern approach has a significant impact on operations and maintenance processes and boosts the ability of the railway energy system to provide robust traction and other power supplies.
Distribution systems are generally defined by a base single line diagram and any reduction of primary equipment within that system exposes the balance of plant retained in service to more onerous conditions. Naturally, one has to review existing maintenance policies and strategies to meet those new more onerous requirements. With that focus, further assessment of the primary equipment and secondary circuit failure rates is required to evaluate reliability and the life cycle of the assets. The client needs to discover a justifiable balance to be found between reliability, availability, and maintainability; colloquially “RAMS.”
Accompanying this approach is the need to ensure that equipment specifications are also continuously reviewed and revised for optimisation in terms of reducing energy losses and higher resilience in operation.
The goal of Demand Side Management is to encourage railway operators to use less energy during peak hours, or to move the period of energy use to off-peak times. Peak demand management does not necessarily decrease total energy consumption, but could be expected to reduce the need for investment in electrical networks and/or power plants assisted by the active use of smart technology.
Due to the nature of the business, requiring the system to operate at maximum capacity during the rush hours, railways are major contributors to the daily power peak. However, consideration can be given to non-traction load and the management of non-essential load which can be significant (up to 20% of the total).
Energy storage and good design
Conventional transmission and distribution power systems are not flexible in the realm of energy storage and, conventionally, demand is promptly met by increased generation activity. However, the application of modern technology opens up the possibility of returning surplus energy back to the supply grid or the option of engaging DC/AC inverters to be used by other consumers. Other means of kinetic energy storage, such as flywheels and solar panels, are actively being pursued by UKPN Services.
A vital element of any system proposal is equipment design. Here the UKPN Services logic applies itself to the optimisation of equipment design and a proper approvals process which ensures reliability, safety, resilience and maintainability. Accompanying this is a review of specifications which may be embedded in history and not achieving the current day needs of low loss performance.
Most railways currently secure energy via long term contracts with major suppliers. Those contracts include excessive margins due to the high risks associated with securing energy at peak times and may not always be advantageous to the customer. This arrangement may see significant changes in the near future if railways are offered incentives to explore options to reduce the price for energy, particularly that which is purchased at peak times. Dynamic pricing models are being actively explored in advanced metering schemes at all consumer levels where they are encouraged to consume cheaper energy off peak. The indirect effect of this approach could be an overall reduction in the cost of peak energy for users that cannot shift their demand away from those peak hours.
This new approach may prompt transportation stakeholders to consider investment in sustainable sources. With this trend, rail could directly influence the overall contribution of green energy generation to the overall mix created by governmental energy strategy. The investment opportunities currently available to railway industry can include CHP (Combined Heat and Power plants), wind turbines, solar and hydro power plants.
It is possible that the complexity of the above issues may discourage stakeholders from seeing the benefits of their individual actions. UKPN Services’ positive experience in running major railway projects has progressed in association with the leading providers of electrical infrastructure. The High Speed One project proved that a strong long term relationship between main stakeholders, originating at the design phase and continuing through to the operational phase, delivers the most successful result.
UKPN Services endeavours to provide consistent technical excellence through its holistic approach by applying the principles and criteria of Intelligent Design and Management. Those principles include the implementation of modern technology via professional engineering and construction records and integrated, state of the art, design, operation and maintenance.