Smart urban low voltage network

Start date: July 2012
End date: March 2015
Low Carbon Networks Fund: £2.1 million

As part of an Innovation Funding Incentive (IFI) project, we have developed a new solid-state switching technology for use on Low Voltage (LV) distribution networks. The project will carry out a large-scale trial of the technology in two areas within the London LV network. Up to 60 secondary substations will be equipped with circuit breakers and 140 link boxes with switches or demand monitoring devices. Its potential for helping network operators address the challenges faced with the transition to a low carbon economy will be investigated.


The introduction of electric vehicles and other low carbon technologies, such as electric heat pumps or electric vehicle charging points, are expected to drive electricity consumption far in excess of natural load growth. Traditional network reinforcement is unlikely to support this growth, and smarter management of the LV network will be required.

Case studies will be developed to:
  • Investigate how a greater understanding, visibility and control of the network can lead to LV active network management, and enable the connection of low carbon technologies.
  • Quantify the expected improvement to quality of supply when using remote control and automation to create a self-healing LV network.
  • Use the unprecedented visibility of the LV network available (single phase load monitoring at link box level) to validate current LV modelling and increase our understanding of the LV network.

  • Demonstrate the business benefits of the large scale roll-out of a technology that enables remote smart management of the low voltage network;
  • Development of a link box load monitoring device to retrofit into older cast iron link boxes;
  • Integration of low voltage hardware with a SCADA based control system using low voltage connectivity models;
  • Roll-out of technology and evaluation of the potential benefits – which are expected to include reduced losses, increased capacity headroom and early visibility of emerging loading or power quality issues.

A potential improvement in quality of supply of up to 75% has been identified in the trial area.
 
  • Greater insight into the potential challenges network operators are likely to face with the transition to a low carbon economy;
  • Understanding how active network management of the LV network can optimise the use of existing LV equipment, and potentially enable the connection of additional and low-carbon loads;
  • Creating an automated, self-healing LV network;
  • Using load monitoring data to enhance modelling of the LV network.

The research areas that Smart Urban Low Voltage Network covers are:
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