DNO spearheads “world-first” smart transformer trial

Smart electricity transformers will greatly improve the level of insight into what is going on in the network, says the operator, assisting the effort to maintain a reliable supply of power.

Billed as a world-first smart transformer trial, UK Power Network’s Project Stratus will see smart electricity transformers installed within existing substations at Uckfield and New Romney in East Sussex which, if successful, will provide live data on electricity usage and demand, “on a scale never-before achieved.” This will help increase network resilience and lay the groundwork for a low carbon future, says the firm.

Using state-of-the-art power electronic technologies, the smart transformers can flexibly adapt to make sure power is directed when and where it is needed, balancing load on the network, and protecting against multiple kinds of potential faults.

Ian Cameron, director of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “In a world of electric vehicles and decarbonised heating, this enhanced visibility and control of our network will allow us to efficiently manage the existing network infrastructure which was never designed for this increased load.

“Whether it is by redirecting power flows, or by managing energy capacity, smart transformer technology would give us world-class oversight and flexibility long into the future, allowing for the integration of more low-carbon technologies as efficiently as possible.”

“Project Stratus is just one of the innovative ways we are improving network reliability, helping keep the lights on for over 20 million homes and businesses. It could give us world-leading visibility of our low voltage network in East Sussex, allowing us to react to potential network faults before they can affect the local power supply.”

With greater visibility of the low voltage network, UK Power Networks will be able to release more energy on the network during times of peak electricity demand. Stratus’s optimisation algorithm can also seamlessly meet the changing needs of customers at different points of the day, without disrupting their energy supply.

The introduction of the technology could enable future markets to support the network and could provide a reliable power source for the next generation of emergency service vehicles proactively tackling the challenges of a low-carbon future.

The trial is being run alongside digital energy platform Amp X, who are offering customers up to £90 to participate. By installing smart plugs in their homes, the project will also capture data to better understand the benefits and create a road map for how the technology could be rolled out nationally.

Irene Di Martino, head of Amp X said: “Working together with UK Power Networks to deliver this trailblazing project is an exciting step forward in delivering Net Zero. Innovation and data driven work will be the driving force behind developing a more dynamic network that can meet the changing needs of society. We hope that with our technologies and support, this project can show how to help communities decarbonise faster and more affordably.”

 To learn more about Project Stratus, see