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Efficient and Effective

Network Vision

A first-of its kind outage tracking and planning tool to maximise generation from distributed energy resources (DERs), which are often renewable energy.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 01/05/2018
End date: 04/05/2020
Budget: £975,800

The purpose of this project was to design and build a modern fit-for-purpose outage planning and tracking tool. Our aim was to better serve customers whose sites are impacted by Extra High Voltage (EHV) outages.

With our project partners Cyient, we developed a scalable network outage planning, tracking and integration platform (OPTIP) with a customer-facing web portal to provide information about generation customer curtailments and shutdowns. The tool also provides interface for customers to engage with our Outage Planners.
To understand customer requirements, we hosted a customer workshop in January 2019 where we gathered specific requirements for the tool. We followed up and presented the software to customers at various points in the production process. The tool is now live and can be accessed here.

Network Vision introduced new operational practices relating to outage planning for the GB distribution system, including the engagement with customers to enable optimal outage scheduling.

This solution is innovative as it enables centralised information management and coordination to minimise the costs associated with outage planning both for network licensees and customers. We believe that there is no prior existing solution that provides the benefits of Network Vision and recognises the rapid growth of DG and DER solutions within the networks. Furthermore, Network Vision enables an innovative approach to outage planning that takes DER customer input into account, and enables closer customer engagement than has been previously possible.

In this project, we learned that an agile approach to system design is an effective way to keep engagement across different business owners high. However, this is a time and labour-intensive process. There is inherent risk that some key stakeholders are not able to commit enough time to stay up to date with project progress. Nevertheless, it is our view that this risk is worth the benefits of an agile approach for a small-medium sized project. For a very large software development project, this may not be appropriate.

When building a bespoke tool, it is important to consider what notifications are required. It is easy for users to assume that notifications will be introduced after general tool functionality is developed. However, different users have different perspectives on what constitutes a ‘logical’ or ‘obvious’ requirement for a notification.

For a complex network requirement such as outage planning, it is not appropriate to constrain a trial to one region. There may be regional differences, and this could put the successful roll-out of the project at risk.

Post-it notes from customer workshops can be viewed in the image below.

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