Low Voltage Network Solutions
The purpose of this project was to gain a better understanding of our low voltage (LV) network, so that we could better understand its capacity to accommodate our customers’ low carbon technologies in the future. This includes increased electricity demand from electric vehicles and heat pumps, and electricity generation from solar photovoltaic (PV) and micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP).
We developed procedures to install network monitoring equipment without interrupting supplies to our customers, and developed a ‘smart cable joint’ to measure voltages and currents along the feeders. We installed monitoring equipment at 200 substations and collected over 10,000 days of valid data. The data was assessed by the University of Manchester, who built detailed models of some of our underground LV networks to show what levels of low carbon technologies those networks could accept without breaching thermal or voltage limits.
The project findings have already influenced how we monitor and manage our network, allowing us to accept clusters of solar PV on our network without delay. Learning from the project has been fed into our other innovation projects such as Smart Street.
See our project literature below or see our closedown report and appendices.
Low voltage network models and low carbon technology profiles
The main objective of the Low Voltage Network Solutions project was to provide a greater understanding of the characteristics, behaviour, and future needs of the region’s low voltage distributions networks, analysing the capabilities of the networks to host new low carbon technologies, studying the penetration levels (% of houses with a particular technology) that trigger power quality problems (mainly voltage and asset overloading) and analysing new strategies, technologies and policies to increase the penetration level of low carbon technologies minimising the impacts on LV networks.
As realistic LV networks and low carbon technology profiles did not previously exist, Electricity North West and The University of Manchester have developed a number of network models and profiles as part of the project.
25 real LV networks and some examples of the LCT profiles studied within the project, including photovoltaic systems (PVs), electric vehicles (EVs), electric heat pumps (EHPs) and micro combined heat and power (μCHPs) are available here to the research and engineering communities.