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Funding Mechanism
 
Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)

Starts - Ends
 
January 2017 - April 2020

Estimated Expenditure
 
£5.9 million

Research Area
 
Low Voltage and 11kV Networks

Website address
 
https://openlv.net
  

Project Description

The OpenLV Project will trial and demonstrate an open, flexible platform that could ultimately be deployed to every LV substation in Great Britain. Through three key Methods, the Project will demonstrate the platform’s ability to provide benefits to the network, customers, commercial entities and research organisations.
 

Problem(s)

The UK’s decarbonisation targets are clear, and remain firm, even in a post-Brexit Britain. The climate change agreement made in Paris in 2015 is legally binding for all nations. The UK has clear aspirations and its own legislation to drive towards a low carbon economy. Energy, and specifically electricity, has a key role in assisting this transition as generation decarbonises, and then through supporting heating and transport demands as these shift towards electricity. Great Britain has about 1,000,000 LV feeders; these have largely been run on a fit-and-forget basis for the last 100 years, but things are set to change. The LV networks are expected to see radical change as we, as customers, alter our behaviour and requirements stemming from the vehicles we drive, to the generation and storage devices we put onto and into our homes.

We’ve seen the start of this transition over the last five years, with new solutions, supported through mechanisms like the LCN Fund, starting to appear on these otherwise passive LV networks. However, each solution is built on a different proprietary platform. As each substation has slightly different needs, there is a risk of lots of competing systems being deployed, each addressing its own, highly specific purpose.

This will result in inefficiency, both in terms of capital and deployment costs, and can ultimately lead to a raft of stranded assets as the new needs of the network outstrip the pace of change of the infrastructure that supports it.
 

Solution

The OpenLV Solution (LV-CAP™) is a software platform, operating on off-the-shelf commodity hardware. It will sit as an interface between the HV/LV substation assets and the customers it serves. 

This Solution is analogous to a smartphone. In the case of a smartphone, the development and rapid acceleration seen in applications (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
  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 substation.
 

Method(s)

The functionality delivered by the OpenLV Solution will be proven via three complementary Methods:

Method 1: LV Network Capacity Uplift;

The Network Capacity Uplift Method will demonstrate the capability of the OpenLV platform to perform measurements and control from within a HV/LV substation.

This Method is innovative as it will test the ability for control signals to be sent via a highly distributed architecture. It will also be the first NIC project to implement automated meshing of LV networks in conjunction with RTTR (Real Time Thermal Rating) of the local HV/LV transformer.

Method 2: Community Engagement;

Once deployed, the OpenLV platform can be used to provide data to customers or groups of customers in communities. This Method will test how this could be promoted and achieved in practice.

This Method will promote innovation through active engagement of communities to provide organisations with direct access to LV network data through a secure third party hosted service. At the current time there are no solutions within the market place that provide this functionality. Data privacy, particularly for substations with a small number of customers, will be explored under this Method.


Method 3: OpenLV Extensibility to 3rd parties;

This Method will provide OpenLV as a secure platform to third parties for them to develop and release their own Apps offering new services to DNOs and customers alike.

This will exploit the open nature of the OpenLV solution. This Method is innovative as it will seek to stimulate the market to develop and deploy new algorithms and/or Apps that ultimately benefit both Customers and DNOs through supporting the cost effective deployment of LCTs and facilitate the development of non-traditional business models.
 

Benefits

The OpenLV Solution includes the following key components:
 

  1. Intelligent substation devices that can support software Applications or ‘Apps’ from multiple vendors on a single device. Providing a low cost hub that, once deployed, can act as a hub for many more functions;
  2. A secure platform that enables the intelligent substation devices to be remotely managed; and
  3. A secure platform that provides LV network data to community groups and third party organisations. This will facilitate non-traditional business models by opening up network data to third parties to understand the network and deploy solutions. 
The roll out of the overall Solution proposed across GB will support the Low Carbon Plan and uptake scenarios presented in the UK Government’s Fifth Carbon Budget by minimising the impacts of low carbon heating and transport on the LV network, therefore removing this as a barrier to customer adoption where it is applied. This has significant potential to deliver environmental benefits and cost savings to future and existing customers by negating and/or deferring the need to reinforce the LV network.
 

Monthly Updates

Innovation team

Number

01332 827446