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Open LV

Funding mechanismNetwork Innovation Competition (NIC)
DurationJanuary 2017 - January 2020
Estimated expenditure5.9 million
Research areaLow Voltage and 11kV Networks
  • South Wales
  • West Midlands
  • East Midlands

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

  • April 2018

    A press release to celebrate the success of recruitment under Methods 2 and 3 was issued to 198 technology / energy media on 3 May; the news item is also on the project website and has been tweeted, with good uptake by partners and stakeholders.

    March 2018

    Excellent coverage for OpenLV in Energy World: 

    February 2018

    The application process to take part in the Business & Academia trials is now closed. A total of 18 applications were received.  EA Technology will review the applications and select the groups to take part in the Business & Academia trials.

    January 2018

    The application process to take part in the Community Engagement trials is now closed. A total of 11 applications were received. CSE will review the applications and select the groups to take part in the Community trials.

    The application process to take part in the Business & Academia trials is still open and closes on 28th February 2018. If you would like to take part in the trials please complete the application for available on the project website: OpenLV Business & Academia Trials.

    December 2017

    The second Successful Delivery Reward Criterion (SDRC) deliverable, “Community Engagement Plan & Testing the Market” and the second Project Managers Report have been completed and are available on the Project website at:

    October 2017

    The first Successful Delivery Reward Criterion (SDRC) deliverable, the Specification, Design and Factory Testing of the overall OpenLV Solution has been completed and is available on the Project website at:

    September 2017

    Factory Acceptance testing on the core technology to be deployed as part of the project has been successfully completed. The first 4 sets of hardware are currently being built and will be installed in due course. The Project has now been officially launched at the WPD Balancing Act Event, with associated press PR to follow to maximise impact and invite further interest in Methods 2 and 3. 

    August 2017

    Initial Factory Acceptance testing on the core technology to be deployed as part of the project was completed successfully this month. The project website is now online at: Interested parties can register their interest in the project via the website.

    July 2017

    Excellent response received from community groups indicating a high level of interest in open access electricity data and app development. Enabling works establishing the overall technical solution that is required to complete successful project trials is progressing well.

    June 2017

    Delivery of the OpenLV project is well underway. The project brand has been established, website development is moving forward and the formal launch is scheduled for 5th October 2017. Engagement activity is already indicating significant market interest in data / app development opportunity. Enabling works establishing the overall technical solution that is required to complete successful project trials is progressing well.