SP Energy Networks, a Scottish electricity transmission operator, will develop a ‘digital twin’ of the UK’s electricity network, to model and test digital solutions to manage increased electricity demand on the real-life network.

The digital twin will be the first energy project to be financed by the Engineering, Physics and Sciences Research Council’s Prosperity Partnership Fund.

It is being created in partnership with Scottish universities including Strathclyde, Glasgow, Heriot Watt and St Andrews.

Known as ENSIGN (ENergy System dIGital twiN), the digital twin system will use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect ways to optimise capacity and develop green energy solutions on the network on the path to net zero emissions.

The project seeks the best solutions to handle increased electricity demand on an energy network platform, hosted by Strathclyde University, and will address issues such as the decarbonisation of heating and industry and the use of hydrogen.

The work will be modelled by other universities involved in the initiative.

The move is claimed to bring “revolutionary changes”, helping to build new virtual links between homes, businesses and the grid.

SP Energy Networks network planning and regulation director Scott Mathieson stated: “The pace of change in the energy industry is like nothing we’ve ever seen. So it’s vital we can stress-test tech and services to identify the best solutions and ensure the network remains fit for purpose as we move towards an all-electric future.

“This new ‘digital twin’ will allow us to simulate innovations and understand the potential benefits of new services in a whole new light, giving us meaningful insights that will directly impact what we do in the real world.”