CLASS is a £9 million project, funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund which will run until September 2015. As part of the CLASS project we are trialling a range of innovative techniques to manage electricity consumption by controlling voltage.
Our CLASS trials started earlier this year. In this second newsletter to our stakeholders, we tell you about our progress on the trials and our customer surveys.
CLASS solution live
Early in spring 2014, we achieved a major milestone for the project when we completed testing and went ‘live’ with the CLASS technological solution. This is a suite of inter-connected technologies, some of which are installed on the electricity network, some in our control room and some in National Grid’s control room.
Designing, developing and commissioning these technologies has been one of the biggest challenges for the project to date. However, the significant learning that we gain will help with the rollout of CLASS nationally, if the trials prove successful.
CLASS trials update
We believe that the innovative CLASS solution can enable us to make maximum use of our existing network assets, thus saving costs and carbon, and providing other benefits.
To ascertain the extent to which this is the case, we are undertaking multiple trials of CLASS across a range of scenarios. This involves the application of the diverse CLASS functions at varying times of day, across diverse demand groups and different seasons.
To date, we have completed two sets of seasonal surveys. The first in spring 2014, and more recently, the summer trials which we completed in early September 2014.
Both set of trials proceeded as planned. Notably, the CLASS technologies responded and performed as expected and delivered the CLASS functions when instructed to do so. A vast array of network data were collected and passed to the University of Manchester for analysis.
We also conducted customer surveys alongside the trials to assess whether customers notice any changes to their electricity supply when the CLASS functions are applied to the network.
The findings from the customer surveys and the network data analysis will determine whether CLASS has been successful, and therefore whether it can be rolled out nationwide.
Successful trial with National Grid
As part of the CLASS project our network management system is linked with National Grid’s system so that data and voltage control instructions can be exchanged in real time between the two control centres. This is the first dual control link of its kind in Great Britain.
We have now successfully completed our first set of CLASS trials with National Grid. This involved National Grid activating a 3% voltage reduction at a selected number of CLASS primary substations on our network. The trial was successful and resulted in the target voltage reduction being achieved.
Customer survey update
The results of our first wave of customer surveys are now available. We surveyed 184 of our customers over the summer to find out if they observed any changes in power quality and if this affected their perception of their electricity service. The results were compared to the results from our baseline survey which was carried out in May 2014.
So far there has been no statistically significant change in the proportion of customers noticing a difference in the performance of their appliances.
As part of the monitoring survey we used a test/control methodology to ensure there was no inflated reporting of changes as a result of being part of our CLASS trial panel. There were no significant differences between the test and control groups, reinforcing the fact that the CLASS trials have not adversely changed perceptions of power quality.
As a further test, half of the control sample were notified about the tests in advance, while half were not, to see if those notified were sensitised to any changes. Again, there were no statistically significant differences between those notified and those not.
The fact that the initial surveys are showing that customers are not observing any adverse effects on their quality of supply is good news for CLASS. However, we will not have the full picture until all the trials and surveys have been completed in April 2015.
Customer survey key facts
- Our CLASS survey participants own a whopping 41,794 appliances!
- Approximately 3/5 of our 697 CLASS survey participants live in the Manchester region, 1/5 live in Lancashire and 1/5 in Cumbria
- 92% of households are often at home at times of peak demand (4-7pm) which means they have the opportunity to notice any possible effects of CLASS
- We have successfully recruited 696 CLASS customers to take part in our surveys: 496 domestic and 200 industrial and commercial which is a statistically robust and representative sample.
- Customer surveys completed:
- Baseline = 696 (496 domestic, 200 I&C).
- Summer = 184 (142 domestic, 42 I&C)
- Autumn (ongoing) to date = 197 (129 domestic, 68 I&C).
- In our summer season survey, 97% of customers surveyed were satisfied with their electricity supply.
Over the next few months we will be focusing on the following key activities:
- Continuing with the trials (season two started in September)
- Continuing to keep you informed on our progress
- Interim analysis of network data will be published on our website in January 2015
- Our next webinar in March 2015
Find out more
- For more information, to see our CLASS videos and to keep up-to-date with our findings please visit our website.
- To watch our introductory CLASS webinar broadcast in June this year click here.
- To find out more about the team delivering the CLASS project click here.
- If you have a question about the CLASS project or are interested in attending any of our seminars or knowledge sharing events please contact us.
- You can also text your question to 87070 - start your message with CLASS and then your name.
All text messages will be charged at your standard network rate.
- Our next newsletter will be published April 2015.