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This project ended in Oct 2018 and is now closed.Dismiss


Determining Electricity Distribution Usage with Consumer Electronics

Funding mechanismNetwork Innovation Allowance (NIA)
DurationOct 2017 - Oct 2018
Project expenditure180k
Research areaNetwork Monitoring
  • West Midlands
  • East Midlands
  • October 2018

    The project has now closed.


To main objectives of this project are to develop, characterise and test sensors that could be used for indirect measurement for substation monitoring. The project is expected to develop a whole systems methodology from reading sensor data through inferring loading profiles from this measurement, leading delivery of such data to the DNO.  


DNOs currently have very limited visibility of LV networks. With Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems generally limited to 11kV feeders, visibility of LV network loading is restricted to Maximum Demand Indicators (MDI). These manual readings are generally supplemented with industry metering flows to develop an understanding of network loading.
MDIs are restricted by their need to be reset periodically as well as the potential for network back-feeds to distort readings.  

A number of previous LCNF projects have looked into LV monitoring. This has pushed the market for LV monitoring forward significantly from the custom built units used for the Low Voltage Network Templates project, to a number of commercially available units available to date. WPD currently has Standard Techniques (STs) for the installation of ground mounted and overhead monitoring as well as a fully tendered framework agreement for the supply of such units.

These units depend primarily on the measurement of voltage and current to determine loading. Voltage is generally measured directly through the use of busbar clamps or modified fuse holders with a voltage take off point. Current is generally measured using Rogoswki coils. These units are capable of measuring the detailed loading of each phase on each feeder and provide a significant level of detail and granularity; however these devices are also costly due to the requirement for multiple sensors. This has limited their roll out to date.


This project looks to develop a low cost (sub £100) distribution substation monitor based on indirect loading measures (temperature, noise, vibration…). At a minimum this must give access to more granular and less error prone data than is currently acquired through MDIs. 
The substation monitor is expected to develop a methodology for the acquisition of basic whole substation loading profiles as well as the optimal method for the delivery of such data to planning teams and simplicity of installation.

To meet these aims the following approaches are proposed:

  1. To investigate existing low cost sensors that can be used for indirect substation loading monitoring;
  2. To investigate new disruptive technologies to determine their suitability and accuracy for monitoring;
  3. To use existing low cost measurement devices or packages (such as a smart phone or raspberry pi) to indirectly provide measurement; and
  4. To run a university based competition to enable non-traditional solutions to be explored.

The trial of existing low-cost sensors and investigation of disruptive technology will be undertaken at Loughborough University by a researcher under the guidance of D Strickland, A Cross, M Thompson and R Ferris. 6-8 different sensors will be designed, built, tested and characterised in the laboratory with possible follow through to testing on University owned 11kV/400V facilities if applicable.

The university competition will be organised through Loughborough University and will be targeted at all UK University students. It will be launched in October to coincide with the start of the academic year. It is suggested that this follows a three stage process: 

  1. Students submit their ideas for measurement along with costing;
  2. The top teams are invited to build and submit a hardware prototype for testing  and provided a budget of up to £500; and
  3. The prototypes are tested and characterised. With a top prize going to the highest scored project.