Low Voltage Network Capacity Study
08 June 2022
The UK government has set a target of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Two significant aspects of this decarbonisation strategy is the electrification of heating and transport (heat pumps and electric vehicles). Both of these will significantly increase electricity demand on our electricity distribution networks and in particular the low voltage network supplying our homes and businesses.
EA Technology have recently completed a project for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to investigate lower cost innovative options for increasing capacity of the LV distribution network. The focus of this work being to find and evaluate alternatives to asset replacement that is able to meet the anticipated increase in electricity demand out to 2050.
EA Technology are actively working with the DNOs in better understanding the existing and future capacity on their networks and the potential technologies or solutions available to help them. One component of this is the Transform Model® which allows a techno-economic analysis of the various options available to network operators to ensure the grid has the capacity for the demands of the future in the most cost effective way possible.
This project investigated a range of innovative solutions ranging from the use of existing network-assets, development of customer side energy storage and changes in design policies. This research was delivered through several stages covering:
- A comprehensive literature review of prior research and innovation projects
- Analysis and interpretation of demand profiles for the 2050 electricity grid
- Existing approaches to estimation of the LV network headroom
- Technical options for expansion of LV network capacity
Utilising the findings from this literature review and analysis, the EA Technology Transform Model® was used to provide a quantified analysis of the different technical solutions available to understand which combinations of solutions would deliver the greatest benefit to GB energy consumers. This included highlighting the challenges around their deployment to ensure BEIS could focus their efforts on research and policy decisions that would bring the greatest savings.
EA Technology provided significant expertise in the area of network design, innovative technical solutions and impact analysis of their deployment across GB. The project team provided extensive expertise to BEIS across the following key areas:
- An excellent understanding of the available solutions for extending network capacity, through involvement in a diverse range of business as usual and network innovation projects.
- Experience of working with DNOs on future energy scenario planning, including translating macro level scenarios to an understanding of load growth at the LV level.
- Understanding of how DNOs assess the capacity of their network and make investment decisions, considering their regulatory obligations and cost-benefit analysis.
- Excellent contacts with key people within the DNOs, ensuring strong engagement and access to key insights, data and review of emerging outputs in a timely fashion.
- Experience of network modelling, changing customer demand and flexibility, as well as understanding of the costs of conventional network reinforcement.
- Understanding of BEIS requirements for research and Quality Assurance procedures, developed through a long track-record of providing research to BEIS