What is Open LV?

Open LV logoOpenLV is an exciting new project hosted by Western Power Distribution (WPD) and funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC). It aims to make substation low voltage (LV) data (this is information on local grid electricity demand) available for others to use, and enable communities to produce apps which take advantage of this data.

The project is being led by EA Technology, working with WPD, the organisation that manages the grid in the South West, South Wales, West & East Midlands. The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has been contracted to deliver the community engagement elements of the project.

CSE’s initial role is to establish a list of community organisations that would be interested in participating in the project. Once they have determined preliminary interest, there will be a more detailed application process to select the project participants. The selected communities will then be supported to design, develop and deploy bespoke apps that will help them use OpenLV data in their community projects.

Background

The OpenLV project uses a software platform that was developed by EA Technology called LV-CAP™. It’s easiest to imagine this as a computer that sits in a local electricity substation, and is connected in such a way that it can measure and report on what the substation is doing, in real time. For example, it can measure load (which can help us understand how much electricity the buildings connected to the substation are demanding at any given moment), and thermal rating (which can help us see how much pressure the substation is under at any given moment).

There are around a million electricity substations in the UK. Almost all of them are currently ‘silent’ – local people have no way of knowing what is happening at the substation. But LV data could be used by communities in all sorts of ways – one of the aims of the OpenLV project is to work with community groups to help them come to their own conclusions about how this data could be useful to them, and then work with them to develop technical specifications and carry out app development.

As a primer, they have worked up some potential app ideas, but are open to all ideas, as part of the support programme is to work with local people to determine how best they think they could use local LV data. So if none of these look relevant to you, don’t be put off expressing an interest in participating in the project.

1. Understanding community electricity demand
An app could be developed to provide information to communities about how much electricity is being used by all properties fed by a substation, allowing community members to join together and obtain cheaper energy rates, or carry out carbon foot-printing.

2. Connecting low carbon technologies to the LV grid
Some proposed renewable energy generation projects fall by the wayside because the local grid is too constrained to accept new connections. Apps could be developed to help community energy project developers better understand the patterns of demand on the local grid, and secure tailored connections.

3. Demand-side response for managed EV charging
An app could be developed to increase the capacity of a local substation to manage the demands of electric vehicle charging, perhaps by indicating the best time to do so, or ‘rationing’ EV connections at peak times.

4. Community alerts to request reduction or increase in load
An App could be developed to alert local residents to reduce their energy demand at times of network pressure – or to feed in more energy, for example from solar panels or, longer term, from electric vehicles. This would help communities play an active role in local network management.

5. Automated electricity storage control
An app could be developed that would signal to energy storage systems on the network to charge or discharge – community organisations wishing to connect storage to their existing renewables projects could find this useful in order to maximise income.

6. Community information alerts
Apps could be developed to send alerts regarding loss in supply to customers. This could be valuable for carers looking after vulnerable members of society. Alerts could be sent to members of a community or carers if supply is lost for a sustained period of time, asking them to check on vulnerable neighbours.

The provisional project timetable is as follows:
 Establish initial interest – by August 2017 (this survey)
 Formal application process – October 2017
 Community support and app proposals process – January – April 2018
 App development – from April 2018
 App deployment – from September 2018 to December 2019

If any of this is something you might be interested in please complete the short survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/OpenLV.

Alternatively, for more information please call  +44 117 934 1400 and ask to speak to Rachel Coxcoon or Rachel Haycock.