The OpenLV project is making local electricity data available to selected community groups in the Western Power Distribution license area. The project generated a lot of interest from community organisations who were interested in understanding their community electricity demand patterns and connecting low carbon technologies to the LV network. Seven organisations were chosen to take part in the project. They had a wide range of ideas about what they wanted to achieve with the data that OpenLV could provide.
What is the challenge?
At the start of the OpenLV project, it was anticipated that most of the community organisations involved would develop their own apps. It soon became evident that this was impractical. This was for a variety of reasons, including funding availability and an underestimation of the skills and expertise required to build or manage app development. It was also feared that if apps were developed by each organisation, there could be a duplication of scope. It was decided that it would be more beneficial for the community organisations to focus on the use of data rather than app development, reducing the risk of frustration and drop-outs among the selected groups.
What is the proposed solution and how is OpenLV enabling it?
The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) solved this conundrum by developing and deploying a web-app for communities to customise to suit their needs. The web-app allows the community organisations to present substation data in the most accessible and relevant way for their community. The web-app can be configured to display graphs in various formats; tariffs can be added to display either the cost of electricity or to model time-of-use tariffs; and community organisations can set up alerts to send notifications to members.
CSE has held seminars with community organisations to demonstrate how to use and configure the web-app and also created guidance booklets to aid understanding and encourage exploration of the data. Community organisations have embedded the web-app on their own websites, such as Tamar Energy Community, who are collecting data from a substation near Plymouth.
CSE engaged with community organisations from the outset, gaining insights into the group’s preferences and allowing them to learn from each other’s ideas and experiences. Ultimately, this ensures that the web-app meets the requirements of the community organisations participating in the project, and that it could be used in the future by groups that have an interest in local electricity data.