The way we generate, distribute and consume electricity across the UK is changing due to advances in technology affecting the entire energy system. One of the significant changes is the amount of new equipment customers want to connect to the network, such as electric vehicle (EV) charge points.

EV charge points will have an impact on the local electricity networks which could in some cases require reinforcement to the network to manage clusters of demand. To help reduce reinforcement costs, network operators are trialling various projects such as OpenLV which will open up data information about the capacity of local electricity networks.

OpenLV, led by project partners Western Power Distribution and EA Technology, is being presented at the 2017 Low Carbon Networks & Innovation (LCNI) Conference in Telford, 6-7 December 2017. The project is inviting communities and businesses to get involved, to discuss ideas about how they could use live data from local electricity networks to help with one of their own projects, or for wider benefit. Communities and businesses can apply to take part in the project via the OpenLV website.

Currently, electricity network operators have limited information about power flows on local electricity networks. This can act as a barrier to the installation and operation of EV charge points or distributed generation devices. The LV-CAP™ platform, provided by OpenLV, allows third parties to develop their own apps using the data provided by the project.

The November 2017 Budget included one of the latest in a series of announcements about an expansion of public EV charging infrastructure. The real-time data about the capacity of local electricity networks that OpenLV is expected to provide can assist with the installation of the growing numbers of home EV chargers, as well as public chargers. In addition, the data will be useful to a wide range of other sectors, including renewable energy developers, property developers, facilities managers, smart city planners and operators of private energy networks, as well as the electricity industry itself.

Mark Dale, Innovation Manager, Western Power Distribution, comments: “The OpenLV project is making local electricity network data ‘open access’ for the first ever time. This presents a great opportunity for smart thinking and innovation. We’re inviting people, ranging from community groups to industry stakeholders, to come up with novel ideas that can make use of this data.”

Richard Potter, EA Technology’s OpenLV Project Manager, adds: “We’re at an exciting point where different sectors such as energy, the built environment, automotive and IT have opportunities to come together to help the UK move towards a smart electricity grid. Innovative ideas about how to harness the potential from local electricity network data that could offer people benefits are welcomed from all sectors, as well as from the energy industry itself.”

Organisations or individuals with ideas that could be developed as part of OpenLV should visit or contact the OpenLV team to discuss the project in more detail.

To watch a short video that explains the OpenLV project visit:

Visitors to LCNI can find OpenLV on the stand of Western Power Distribution, the 2017 LCNI Conference Sponsor. LCNI provides an opportunity to explore the key learnings from electricity and gas network innovation projects.