What is the OpenLV Project?

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 and enable the industry to develop applications or apps to provide benefits to: 1) Individual customers, 2) Community energy groups, 3) Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and the 4) The wider industry.

What is the unique selling point of the solution that will be trialled in the OpenLV project?

This solution is analogous to a smartphone. In the case of a smartphone, the development and rapid acceleration seen in apps has been provided by a wide variety of organisations, covering a huge array of services.

The growth in smartphone apps shows the importance of: 1) Having an open operating system (OS) that can be deployed on multiple vendors’ hardware and 2) The ability to have a central system or store to deploy apps and make them available to new users.

Whilst the platforms are common, the apps used are highly tailored to suit the unique nature of a user’s own needs – no two phones are identical, as no users are identical.

This project, OpenLV, will trial a similar, open platform, but for a LV substation.

How will the OpenLV solution be trialled?

The OpenLV solution will be deployed in 80 LV substations. These devices will be used to show how the overall solution can:

  • Release additional network capacity from existing LV network assets
  • Be used to enable the development of community or customer-driven apps
  • Be used to enable companies (including non-energy companies) to develop innovative apps.

Why is the OpenLV project relevant to the LV Distribution Network both today and in the future?

“New technology is changing the way we generate, distribute and consume energy… The age of exclusive control by big energy companies is over; we need to maximise our ability of consumers to play an active role in managing their energy needs.”
(Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
BEIS & Ofgem, “A Smart, Flexible Energy System”

The OpenLV solution will provide consumers with network demand information for their local network and provide them with the ability to develop and deploy new apps to meet their local energy needs.

The Future Power Systems Architecture (FPSA), commissioned by DECC and published by the IET in July 2016, outlines four core evolutionary pathways for power sector evolution over the next 15-20 years. Two of these pathways are:

  • Community Empowerment: the power sector expands its facilitation role, empowering smart cities and energy communities with local markets and peer-to-peer trading
  • Customer Empowerment: the power sector becomes a facilitator empowering the emergence of new commercial parties, new business models, and new services.

OpenLV will provide a technological solution that will enable the goals of the above pathways to be realised.

How is the OpenLV project funded and how will it be delivered?

The OpenLV project is funded by Ofgem through the Network Innovation Competition (NIC). The OpenLV project is led by EA Technology, a trusted third party innovation technology deliverer, and will be delivered in partnership with Western Power Distribution. Key project suppliers include Nortech and Lucy Electric GridKey.

What benefits will the OpenLV project deliver?

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:

  • Negotiating power: visibility of aggregate demand and ability to use this to strike better deals with energy suppliers
  • Market access: a platform for the provision of services to DNOs/TSOs
  • Reduced DUoS payments: resulting from improvements made by the DNO; and
  • Reduced connection costs: allows the LV customer to connect new forms of generation or demand in a more flexible way.


DNO benefits envisaged are:

  • Direct cost reduction: the use of a standardised single platform rather than multiple overlaying solutions; economies of scale in procurement; and
  • Improved flexibility: i.e. a platform rolled out for monitoring, can later be used to control the LV network, limiting the risk of stranded assets.

Third party developer

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

  • Direct payment: third party gets paid every time their app is commercially deployed on a substation platform
  • Reduced barriers to entry: the developer does not have the responsibility or costs to provide the enabling platform or infrastructure – only the software app.

Platform provider(s)

Platform provider(s) benefits envisaged are:

  • Hardware deployment: payment for every unit rolled out in a substation
  • App ‘store’ administration: payment by third party to manage apps; potentially also from end users to tailor apps for substations/community groups.

What measures are in place to protect against cyber-security risks?

The security of the OpenLV solution is being taken very seriously and robust measures are in place to protect against any risks. These measures include independent, specialist evaluation of system architecture, documentation, source code and third-party application containers.

Prior to deployment as business-as-usual the LV-CAP™ platform will incorporate the necessary improvements identified as part of the independent evaluation.

The OpenLV project is also, as part of the cyber-security elements of the project, reviewing key existing cyber-security standards, recommending improvements, and is ultimately looking to provide guidance for the industry in the areas of best practice, procurement considerations and minimum acceptable standards.

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