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The OpenLV Project is trialling an open software platform in electricity substations that can monitor substation performance and electricity demand. This will host applications provided by a diverse set of developers, such as community groups, businesses and universities, providing a variety of services to network operators, communities and the wider industry.

As part of the OpenLV project, the software will be installed in 80 Low Voltage (LV) distribution substations located in Western Power Distribution’s (WPD’s) licence areas – the Midlands, the South West and South Wales. The software could ultimately be deployed in every LV and High Voltage (HV) substation in Great Britain.

The project will use three methods to demonstrate the platform’s ability to provide benefits to the network owner, customers, and service providers.

1: Improving the capacity of the local electricity network

The software platform will perform measurements and control within the substation and will allow the substation to ‘mesh’ with other substations to increase capacity, or release capacity through active management of the local electricity network via new software applications (apps), if required. This will also improve system security, as temporary load issues can be mitigated by meshing substations until the demand decreases. By doing this, it will reduce the need for network reinforcement and will therefore save money for customers through reduced network operator costs.

2: Community benefit

The software platform can be used to provide data about the local electricity network to customers or groups of customers. The project will work with community groups to understand whether apps can be developed and installed that they can benefit from.

3: Development of apps

Third party companies will be able to develop and release their own apps for the platform to provide benefit to the operator and customers. EA Technology will provide the base API (Application Programming Interface) to work from.

The availability of data from substations along with the open software platform will help to create new economic opportunities and enable the transition to more actively managed local electricity networks.

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What’s our solution?

Benefits of the project

The OpenLV project will deliver the following benefits to:
1) End customers,
2) DNOs,
3) Third party developers and
4) Platform providers.

End customers

End customers include households, small/medium businesses, etc. The benefits envisaged are:

DNOs

DNO benefits envisaged are:

Third party developers

Third party developer would include anyone (from sole trader to corporate entity, amateur to academic) capable of creating an app. The benefits envisaged are:

Platform provider(s)

Platform provider(s) benefits envisaged are:

Financial benefits of the project

The financial benefits of the OpenLV project are estimated to be:

Method 1 (Improving the capacity of the local electricity network): £120m
Method 2 (Community benefit): £177m
Method 3 (Development of apps): £298m
Total: £595m

The project cost is £5m
This gives a benefit ratio of 123:1


Capacity benefits of the project

Once fully deployed, the roll-out of the three methods across Britain could unlock 5827MW of capacity to support the electrification of heat and transport.

To put this into context, a power station such as Heysham 1 (nuclear, advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) type) has 1150 MW capacity.

Therefore the capacity that the OpenLV project could unlock is equivalent to 5 x Heysham 1 Nuclear power stations.