At Electricity North West we are leading the way in developing smart solutions to meet the UK’s future energy challenges. Our Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund project – ‘Smart Street’ – builds on the learning from our two previous projects – Capacity to Customers and CLASS. By combining innovative technology with existing assets, we are aiming to make our network and customers’ appliances perform more efficiently and make it easier to adopt low carbon technologies onto our network.
In this first issue of our newsletter, we provide an introduction to the Smart Street project and an update on our progress to date. We hope you find it of interest.
It’s estimated that the cost of upgrading the UK electricity network by building more infrastructure to meet future demand could be as much as £1.8 billion by 2025 in the North West alone and £15 billion across Great Britain. That's the equivalent of almost £600 for every household. To minimise potential costs, disruption and carbon emissions, we need to develop smarter and more efficient ways of managing our electricity networks.
The £11.5 million Smart Street project will trial innovative voltage control techniques to optimise network voltage while maintaining voltages within statutory limits. It aims to make networks and customers’ appliances perform more efficiently and make it easier to adopt low carbon technologies (solar panels, electric vehicles and heat pumps) onto the electricity network.
The project was awarded £8.5 million of funding in November 2013 following a successful bid to Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks Fund
Smart Street technology
The Smart Street trials are now live. Following a challenging installation programme the Smart Street technologies have been commissioned and the project trials are under way.
We have installed a range of new voltage management technology in our main control room, at six primary substations and 40 associated distribution substations. The new equipment was installed and the system configured between late 2014 and late-2015, before the live trials began in January 2016.
The trial sites serve around 67,000 customers in Manchester, Wigan, Wigton and Egremont. These sites were chosen as they re representative of our geographic area and our different customers.
The trials will take place over a two-year period using a two-week-on/two-week-off test regime. This will enable us to compare one year’s worth of Smart Street data with normal network operation, so we can calculate the overall benefits of Smart Street and understand any impact on our customers.
You can find out more about our trial design and test regimes on our website.
The Smart Street trials
Since the project began in January 2014 we have installed new voltage management technology in our main control room and at six primary substations and 40 associated distribution substations in Manchester, Wigan, Wigton and Egremont, which serve around 67,000 customers. These sites were chosen as they are representative of our geographic area and our different customers.
The new equipment will be installed and the system configured between late 2014 and mid-2015, with live trials due to begin in late 2015. The trials will be carried out on a one-week-on and one-week-off basis until the latter part of 2017.
As part of the trials we will be working with our project partners to quantify the impact of the Smart Street project.
Engaging with our customers and stakeholders
Understanding whether customers are affected by the trials is crucial to the viability of Smart Street. An ‘engaged customer panel’, made up of a representative sample of customers, was convened last year to help decide the best way to communicate information about the project.
Following feedback from the panel, we distributed an information leaflet to customers served by the trial circuits and proactively contacted around 1500 customers who live nearby new equipment installed as part of the project. We have also launched a project website which went live in June 2014 and held webinars in July 2014 and April 2015.
Once the trials are under way we will hold a series of focus groups with our customers to understand whether they observe any changes in their electricity supply as a result of the trials..
Throughout the Smart Street project we will work with a number of partners and key suppliers who are leading experts in their fields, either in research, technology or customer engagement. The partners and key suppliers working on the project are:
- Kelvatek will supply WEEZAP and LYNX devices and provide support in executing the trials
- Siemens is responsible for the supply, installation and configuration of the Smart Street optimisation hardware and software
- Impact Research will provide customer engagement and survey activities
- The University of Manchester will examine the voltage optimisation and loss reduction techniques used in Smart Street
- Queen’s University Belfast will produce the design and operation policies required to convert UK networks into optimal meshed configurations
- The Tyndall Centre will research the cost benefits and carbon impact related to the Smart Street solution
- TNEI will provide research support and consultation throughout the trials
Over the next few months we will be focusing on the following key activities:
- Technology installation - continue with installation of transformers and capacitors
- Start of trials in the autumn - trials will run for two years in conjunction with research deliverables
- Project learning event in October 2015
- Next project newsletter in December 2015
Find out more
- Find out more about Smart Street on our project website.
- Watch our project videos or recordings of our project webinars.
- If you have a general enquiry about Smart Street: email us phone us on 0800 195 4141.
- If you are interested in attending any of our knowledge sharing events please contact us.
- You can also text your question to 87070 - start your message with Smart. All text messages will be charged at your standard network rate