Our power lines can be run smarter to save cash

Power lines and electricity substations could be run smarter to save energy, carbon and cash, according to the results of a massive project to map energy use patterns. Western Power […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Power lines and electricity substations could be run smarter to save energy, carbon and cash, according to the results of a massive project to map energy use patterns.

Western Power Distribution which runs the local networks for 7.8 million people in the Midlands, South West and Wales, said it has undertaken Europe’s largest monitoring project of networks.

Over three years it recorded 500milion measurements at more than 800 substations and 3,600 customer connection points in Wales to collect readings every 10 minutes.

It was all to find out what’s happening on the electricity network at any given time in cities and rural environments.

Image: Western Power Distribution.
Image: Western Power Distribution.

Using this huge amount of data the network firm has created 10 templates of load patterns.

Roger Hey, WPD’s Future Networks Manager said: “Our templates will help identify hotspots where network infrastructure upgrades are needed and where additional generation is best connected. This will save money and minimise disruption.”

Among the findings of the Network Templates project, part funded by Ofgem, is that operators can connect far more solar panels or electric car charging points than thought.

Mr Hey added: “We established that the actual capacity used by low carbon installations, like solar panels, was about 20% less than we previously assumed in our planning.”

It could also be possible to lower the voltage across the network without any noticeable effects for customers but with reduced energy bills and carbon emissions.

Any such move would have to be put into law by DECC and Ofgem. The network firm said more research is needed in this area and it is planning further trials in South Wales.