LV Connect and Manage
|Funding mechanism||Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)|
|Duration||Apr 2016 - Apr 2019|
|Project expenditure||1.7 million|
|Research area||Low Carbon Technologies|
The objectives of this project are to trial and demonstrate the following:
- Broadband over powerline, providing the communications solution between distribution substations and customers (enabling the bi-directional power flow control of LCTs);
- ANM solutions with intelligence distributed into the LV network to monitor and control LCTs in real-time and optimize import/export patterns within operational limits;
- ANM solutions, as a short or long term alternative to network reinforcement, in areas where network constraints are becoming a problem due to the localized uptake of LCTs; and
- New business processes, based on proven, off-the-shelf technology, which can be quickly and cost effectively deployed to connect and manage LV customers’ LCTs.
Network reinforcement can be too expensive and too time-bound to respond to low carbon technology (LCT) connections on the low voltage (LV) network, particularly if rapid clustering occurs (such as with electric vehicles and PV installations). Due to uncertainties in volume, location and type of LV connections, it is not possible or efficient for WPD to plan network reinforcement ahead of need. However, when the need does arise, network reinforcement (traditional base-case solution) can be too expensive and can take too long to deploy, delaying customers’ connections to the network.
A comparison of PV installations registered for the FiT and with WPD data shows only ~60% match in notified LV connections. Despite forecasting, there is still a lot of uncertainty as connections might not materialise or might materialise in more abundance than expected.
Technology for LV ANM, which extends communications and controls to customers’ meters and is able to deal with bi-directional power flows, is still unproven and needs to be trailed by WPD in a low-risk way, to assess whether or not this option is a viable alternative to network reinforcement.
This project will demonstrate and prove that LV ANM can be used as a short-term measure, whilst network reinforcement takes place, to facilitate the timely connection of customers. The solution can then be redeployed to another area when the need case arises. Moreover, the ANM solution provides a long-term alternative to network reinforcement in cases where the investment in traditional assets is not economically viable or other reasons (such as the disruption to customers) prevents reinforcement taking place. In order to maintain the highest standard to service to its customers, WPD plans to connect them as quickly and cost effectively as possible and then actively manage them, once connected.
The LV Connect and Manage method involves the deployment of communications and control infrastructure to allow LCTs to connect to the network in a timely manner and be managed in an active way. This will involve, limiting the power exported by LCTs to the network at times of LV network congestion or increasing the power demand of LCTs (heat pumps, energy storage and/or EVs) to keep the network within technical limits.
The LV Connect and Manage method will be delivered in three phases:
- Mobilisation (including the procurement of equipment and services, and production of the customer engagement and data protection plans);
- Connect and Manage Trials (including the recruitment of customers to participate in the trial and the installation of equipment in customers’ premises and WPD’s distribution substations); and
- Analysis and Close Down (including the analysis of results from trials and an evaluation of the LV Connect and Manage solution).