Dave A Roberts: Data is Key to the LV Network and reaching Net Zero

As we continue on our transition to Net Zero, data, particularly that from the low voltage network, will become increasingly important. New demands on the network from the cars we drive, to the way we heat, or, repower our homes will change the traditional power flows and the role of the electricity network. Our decarbonisation ambition is now enshrined in law, and the Green Recovery is a significant feature of Government policy to ‘build back better’ in a post-Covid-19 world. It’s not going away!

The OpenLV project has made some significant contributions to learning and understanding of not just networks, but perhaps more importantly how customers, communities and collaborators can use data facilitated by platforms like LV-CAP.

When we embarked upon this journey in the summer of 2016, we could not have anticipated how things have panned out in terms the consumer appetite for data and the way this can unlock opportunities for a whole range of actors. The work carried out by the project has shown what is and isn’t possible with a decentralised architecture, and the need for such an approach for the extensive low voltage network.

But beyond this, the project has engaged real citizens and communities. It has helped gain an insight into their drivers and needs, including striking the right balance in converting complex network data into digestible information. I’m pleased to see that there is a hunger for these communities to continue to receive the data beyond the project, and applaud this moving to a ‘business as usual’ service from Western Power Distribution for those groups. The community ‘guidebook’ will, I believe, be a great source of material and an aid for other communities and distribution companies up and down the country.

We’ve proven that there is an appetite from industrial and academic partners to deploy software Apps onto third-party platforms, and shown that this is technically feasible. EA Technology is now exploring commercial models to provide an enduring solution – again breathing life into this well beyond the project.

Along the way, we have informed work on the DNO to DSO transition and the thinking of the Energy Data Taskforce, by providing real-life examples of how open data and platforms like LV-CAP can work.

Over the course of the project, we have seen distribution companies come out for tender for monitoring solutions and expect this to ramp up significantly over the next five years. I believe the work carried out by the project on cybersecurity will help many of those companies in determining the most appropriate levels for different functions – noting for example, that monitoring is different to control signalling.

Monitoring is now far from niche innovation, and moving rapidly to a necessity, with a range of use cases, in this new world.