21 May 2021
For the UK to achieve its Net Zero ambitions we will need to make far more connections to be electricity network. These will not just be for traditional connections like blocks of flats, but also new loads like electric vehicle chargepoints.
Our journey to Net Zero may also change the nature of connection requests – for example a new housing development may require heat pumps rather than gas as we start to address the challenge low-carbon domestic heating. This could make the process of connecting to the electricity network more complex - and potentially slower - as the number of connection requests increases.
To make the connection process simple and quicker, we worked with Northern Powergrid to develop an easy-to-use software tool: AutoDesign. It can provide a connection budget quotation in seconds, for any part of Northern Powergrid’s licence areas. This project is a great example of a DNO using data and technology to improve a process for their customers. We are pleased to have been a part of it.
Site selection is not just about finding a plot of land with the correct local authority land permits, but also whether the local electricity network can accommodate the connection request. Will it be cost effective to connect to the network at a particular point? Are there any other points on the local network where a connection can be made? Using AutoDesign, the user can research all these alternatives from their home or office PC, laptop or tablet.
Intelligent tools like AutoDesign have the potential to cut through the complexity of getting connected to the public electricity network. The tool is designed to be understandable by all customers – whether they are familiar with the electricity network or not. It empowers the connection customer to be able to use the network map feature to research the pros and cons of connecting at different points. It also allows the user to alter the specification, for example to alter the number of EV chargers or the size of the houses, to research the impact on their connection budget request and tailor it to fit their budget. And they will receive a budget quotation back in seconds.
Some typical use cases for AutoDesign include:
- A transport planner for a local authority wanting to install electric vehicle chargepoints in council owned car park could use the map feature to find out if locating them in one corner of the car park as opposed to another could make the scheme more cost effective. Or whether even a small change in the number of chargepoints can change whether or not a scheme is cost effective. Within an afternoon, the planner would have a quote to base the new scheme on
- A property developer can quickly compare the cost effectiveness of different building plots based on accurate electricity connection data and run queries based on different numbers and sizes of housing units and heating technology.
- An electrician can provide a properly budgeted turnkey solution to connect a new load to the electricity network – in an evening.
The development team at EA Technology are proud with this innovative software that has been delivering benefits to Northern Powergrid’s customers since 2020. Net Zero goals will only be achieved through using data to enable customers. We like to think AutoDesign is a gamechanger in this arena.