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Newsletters

    • Newsletter July 2015

      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.

      Background


      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..

      Our partners

       

      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

      What’s next?

       

       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
    • Newsletter January 2016

      Background

      Jan 2016 newsletter - background

      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.

      Go Live

      January 2016 newsletter - Go Love

      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.

      Smart Street technology

      January 2016 newsletter  - Smartstreet technology

      Smart Street is the first demonstration in Great Britain of a fully centralised low voltage network management and automation system.

      Its new voltage control techniques configure and optimise voltage on our high voltage (HV) and low voltage (LV) networks in real time using bespoke Spectrum 5 software developed by Siemens. One of the new techniques deployed is conservation voltage reduction (CVR). By using LV capacitors alongside transformers with an on-load tap changer, we intend to reduce the supply voltage to our customers to an optimum level for energy efficient operation of appliances, reducing our customers’ energy usage and releasing capacity on the network.

      During the technology build we installed 498 WEEZAPs and 126 LYNX devices (a new controllable switching device developed in collaboration with project partner Kelvatek). We have also installed 49 end-point monitors, 84 low voltage capacitors, six high voltage capacitors and five on-load tap changing transformers. All of this equipment has been integrated into our network management system and is controlled by Siemens Spectrum 5 from our control centre.

      Customer engagement

      January 2016 newsletter - customer service

      Before the technology installation began, the company launched a campaign to inform customers in the trial areas about the project. A customer focus group was held to help decide the best way to communicate information to the 67,000 customers served by the trial circuits. We then issued an information leaflet to customers and subsequently contacted around 1500 customers who live close to any new equipment installed as part of the project.

      We also committed to contact vulnerable customers on our priority services register, by telephone and by our normal written procedures, if their home would be affected by unavoidable planned outages to install equipment. This proactive approach was designed to manage the specific needs of individual customers. However, because of the careful design of the installation programme, we were able to install all technologies without any need to interrupt customers’ supplies.  

      The next part of the campaign will be to hold a series of focus groups to collect qualitative information from customers to understand whether they observe any changes in their electricity supply as a result of the trials.

      Learning and dissemination

      January 2016 newsletter - learning

      In the last six months we have attended a number of dissemination events to share our learning from the Smart Street project with our stakeholders.

      You can see the presentation materials from the following events on the events page of our website:

      • Infuse event, 7 October 2015, Lisburn, Northern Ireland
      • Smart Street learning event, 13 October 2015, The Crystal, London
      • LCNI conference, 24 – 26 November 2015, Liverpool


      What’s next?

      Over the next few months we will be focusing on the following key activities:

      • Carrying out the Smart Street trials in conjunction with our research deliverables
      • Holding our next engaged customer panel with customers on the trial circuits
      • Our next project newsletter in July 2016
      • Our second project learning event in February 2017.



      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