Having attended an IET talk on “Application of a Wide-Area Monitoring and Control Technique for Fast Frequency Response in the GB Transmission Network” I think the answer, in part, is yes. National Grid SO has a NIC funded project to investigate Fast Frequency response. GE are the suppliers of the WAMs devices and brains behind the scheme. Manchester and Strathclyde did the technical studies work. A number of generators and load response companies engaged in trial responses.
Penetration of renewables is lowering the system inertia. Also seeing more localised responses to system events can no longer consider a single grid frequency during events. For the loss of generation, if power is injected at the wrong location (although the lost power is replaced as desired) the regional differences can mean that in the worst case you split the network by increasing the power angle between regions to the point where they lose synchronisation.
The Proposed Solution
The project trialled measuring the frequency across a wide area (hence WAM [Wide Area Measurement]). This was then collated at a regional level (the regions being split by areas with strong electrical connections internally with boundary lines where splits could occur, 6 zones for the full of GB). The collation acted to filter out noise on the ROCOF measurements that were caused by local switching etc. A top-level controller would then assess, using the results from each region, which were the regions local to the event that should, therefore, respond to the event. It also updates each of the regional controllers with a list of available devices to respond. This project could dispatch the control signals to the generators or loads within 500 ms.
In parallel to the technical work, National Grid SO is working on the commercial framework which will allow people to sell the fast frequency response capability to them.
The HVDC Perspective
It is easy to see how HVDC interconnectors could contribute to this solution. The speed of response required for the schemes could easily be met by HVDC controllers. Further to this, it can only add to the business cases to create the links in the first place if there is another revenue stream opened up to them.