Low Carbon Ready

Timed Connections Software Development

Project Data

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We’re developing and delivering long-term software for analysing ‘timed connections’, which allow cheaper and faster connections for electric vehicles.

What is the project about?

We’re forecasting there will be more than 3.6m electric vehicles in our network areas by 2030, up from around 100,000 today. Every electric vehicle, whether it be a commercial truck, private car, or a public bus, will charge through our electricity network. As more and more companies switch from fossil fuels to EVs, we’re looking ahead to plan and propose smart solutions to facilitate Net Zero.

‘Timed connections’ allow large commercial fleets, which generally run on a predictable timetable, to charge flexibly when demand is low, allowing us to lower the cost of connection and make it easy for companies to make the switch.

Take, for example, electric postal vans. Staff begin and finish their rounds at the same time most mornings and evenings. Just after most people finish work, however, is a time when electricity demand is high, and all these vans plugging in at the same time could cause a significant strain on the network. To keep supplies secure, companies would need to pay for network upgrades before they could make the switch to EVs.

Time connections fix that problem. Through software, we can control the flow of electricity into plugged-in EVs, and instead charge them overnight, for example, when demand is lower. The software still makes sure companies have the charge they need to run their business, while lowering the cost of connection and helping us run the network more efficiently.

How we’re doing it

This project is upgrading the timed connection software we already use to make it more efficient. We’re building:

  • A new distribution network visibility (DNV) tool with capabilities for data cleansing and data preparation for timed connection assessments;
  • Two add-ons to existing software tools that run power flows on the network, which allow us to identify the potential of timed connections in specific parts of the network.

Ultimately, this will help us assess timed connections faster, and help customers get EVs connected much faster and at a considerably lower cost.

While commercial EV fleets are perhaps the main beneficiary of timed connections, the software could have other applications as well. Whether it’s a fleet of EVs, or a block of flats, or a new factory, any new connections represents a new ‘load’ on our electricity network that could under the right circumstances benefit from a timed connection offer.

What makes it innovative

Timed connections are an innovative smart solution to facilitate EVs, but this project takes it to the next level.

The development of the new DNV tool with enhanced functionalities and the add-ons to the existing network analysis software packages, called DPlan, DigSilent and PowerFactory, are a first on our network. They are being delivered to our Planning Engineers, along with a suite of tools to support them in assessing timed connections, which will help them make decisions at scale. The newly-improved software will lead to greater consistency and accuracy as well as significant time savings.

What we’re learning

To make a timed connection offer, we need to analyse historical data about our network to make sure the timed connection will provide benefits. The new DNV tool has two key enhanced functionalities that will help with the preparation and ‘cleansing’ of historical data for analysis.

The two new functionalities are:

  • Data cleansing functionalities, which automatically identify each data quality profile rule and apply the required handling of the occurrence;
  • Timed connections tab. This allow the summation of 48 half-hourly demand values, either maximum or minimum, of selected network assets and during a specified period in time

These new tools and add-ons help reduce the amount of time required to assess a timed connection offer. As a result, customers benefit from faster connections of new loads at considerably lower cost compared to traditional connections.

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