menu

The OpenLV project is making electricity network data ‘open access’ for the first time ever. This presents a great opportunity for smart thinking and innovation. We are inviting people, ranging from community groups to industry stakeholders, to come up with novel ideas for apps that can make use of this data.

The OpenLV project will trial a new open and flexible solution that will be installed in Low Voltage (LV) substations. This solution will provide enhanced monitoring of the LV network, resulting in electricity network data being made available for public use for the first time. The apps should ultimately provide benefits to:

Examples of apps that might make use of this data are listed below. If you are a community group, industry stakeholder or app developer, then we welcome your ideas, whether based on one of the suggestions outlined here, or whether it’s something entirely different. Please note that the app can be as simple or as complex as the idea dictates.

1. Community group apps

Community groups could use data from their local LV substation(s) in a number of ways. Some ideas for community groups apps are listed below.

Get to know my substation app

This app could provide communities with their overall electricity consumption. This would enable communities with the base data required to come up with a plan for their local community energy scheme.

Reducing community costs app

This app could provide communities with their overall electricity consumption and could enable them to negotiate a better rate with electricity supplier(s).

Influencing community demand app

This app could enable communities to run campaigns to influence i.e. the reduction of electricity demand at specific times of the day. Providing access to this data enables the effectiveness of campaign(s) to be assessed.

Community generation app

This app could enable communities to automatically get the best return on investment from community-owned generation assets. Knowing what the demand is on the local network provides the data required for automated routines to export the electricity to the network; or utilise it locally when it is most cost effective to do so.


2. Low carbon technologies take-up monitoring

Low carbon technologies (electric vehicles, heat pumps and solar PV) are expected to have a significant impact on the LV electricity network. At the current time, DNOs do not necessarily know how many of these technologies are installed. However, we do know that these technologies will not be evenly distributed across the electricity network. Where they form in ‘clusters’ this has the potential to impact the LV network.

Providing research organisations with access to the LV network data will enable them to ‘mine the data’ and, for example, estimate the number of low carbon technologies that are installed. This information would be of interest to the DNO to allow them to make cost effective investment decisions about the local electricity network. With accurate data and predictions, a DNO could decide whether to deploy smart solutions rather than infrastructure upgrades, which will save customers money.


3. Real-time thermal rating – transformers & cables

Apps could provide DNOs with data on LV network assets that is not currently accessible. For example, the provision of real time temperature data for network assets could enable DNOs to run assets harder for short time periods, as and when required. This reduces the investment spent on network assets therefore saving customers money.


4. Demand-side response for managed EV charging

The uptake of electric vehicles is set to increase rapidly. The existing LV network was not built to support the electricity demand required to support large numbers of electric vehicles. Where these vehicles appear in ‘clusters’ in local neighbourhoods, network assets may be required to be upgraded or replaced. This is a costly process that is ultimately funded by customers. Apps could be developed to help manage EV charging, therefore helping DNOs to avoid costly infrastructure upgrades and save customers money.


5. Automated voltage monitoring and management

This app is more likely to be of interest to an equipment supplier or DNO. The LV-CAP™ platform, in the configuration being deployed within the OpenLV Project, monitors the voltage of the connected feeders and transformers, making these readings available to all other applications on the platform. These readings can therefore be utilised to achieve multiple, different outcomes depending on the application, some examples of which are below.

Maintain statutory limits app

In a simple example of an automated voltage management application, these readings could be utilised to determine optimum settings for the network’s tap-changers, ensuring the LV network voltage remains with statutory limits.

Load management app

Utilising voltage management can also be a means to support management of load on the network. Reducing the voltage on the circuit reduces the energy used by resistive loads, such as a kettle, or the heating element within ovens and washing machines; similarly, increasing the voltage increases the load drawn by such devices.

In situations where the network is under strain, either determined from direct measures, or other applications such as a real-time-thermal-rating prediction, decreasing the voltage would reduce the load and hence the stress on the network. In contrast, raising the voltage would increase the load and energy utilised within the network.

This application could be linked with the ‘Community Generation app’ referred to above and provide an additional ‘tool’ for communities to maximise their return on investment.

LCT Management in response to voltage variation app

G83 voltage control equipment on domestic PV panels automatically disconnects PV generation from the network when voltage limits are exceeded but does not re-connect installations automatically when the voltage levels return to permitted levels. An application on an LV-CAP™ platform could be utilised to provide a ‘trigger’ signal once statutory voltage levels were re-established, enabling re-activation of the generation plant.

This would require a communications link to the PV system, something that would fall under the control of the equipment supplier and not the DNO / DSO or LV-CAP™ platform provider.


6.    Distributed generation control and automated energy storage control

This idea may be of interest to owners of standby generation or energy storage assets. The ‘community generation app’ could enable communities to automatically get the best return on investment from community-owned generation assets. Knowing what the demand is on the local network provides the data required for automated routines to:

  1. Stop the export of power to the LV network when it cannot be supported; and
  2. Charge and discharge energy storage assets when it is most cost effective to do so, maximising the return on investment for the asset owner.

7. Community information alerts

Using LV network data, apps could be developed to send alerts regarding loss in supply to customers, for example, how long the loss of supply lasted for could be provided. This may be of interest to communities with their own news feeds or to individual members of a community. In addition, this information could be valuable for carers looking after vulnerable members of society. Alerts could be sent to members of a community or carers if supply is lost for a sustained period of time, asking them to check on vulnerable neighbours.

Note: Alerts to be sent after a sustained duration power-loss would require the use of linked cloud processing or similar as the LV-CAP™ platform would not be able to issue alerts during a power outage.

Note

It is worth reiterating that the concept of the LV-CAP™ platform makes all raw, monitored data available to all applications installed on the device. The exceptions to this are likely to be where an equipment manufacturer makes use of data gathered by an additional, proprietary sensor (e.g. specialised power harmonics) and their application captures and stores the information gathered for their own use but does not make it available elsewhere within the system.

The LV-CAP™ platform is intended to allow the end user of the system to deploy multiple applications that utilise the same data for different purposes whilst providing a method for companies with specialist IP to maintain control of it.

As an example, a real-time-thermal-rating application could forecast an exceedance in network capacity in the future, but the management of load on the network could be achieved through the control of voltage to reduce load, through initiating network meshing, through utilisation of battery storage, or a combination of all of these.

Different networks may require one but not the other and it would be at the discretion of the site owner which applications were deployed, and in what order of priority to schedule the actions they initiate; this avoids the need for application developers to create complex applications that make allowances for every contingency.

The OpenLV project team can offer support to take your app ideas from concept to reality. To find out what support is available, and full terms and conditions of accessing that support, please contact the relevant OpenLV project partner.