Managing the LV Network Constraints
11 April 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 will significantly increase electricity demand on our electricity distribution networks and in particular the low voltage network supplying our homes and businesses.
The Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have relatively good visibility of the high voltage(HV) network and is thought to have significant headroom. However, historic installation and development means the low voltage (LV) network has relatively poor visibility with much of it being old, poorly documented or measured. This network supplies the large majority of domestic and small business consumers in GB and is by far the most extensive, complex and expensive component to maintain. As a consequence, to support the electrification of heat and transport could also be the most expensive to upgrade leading to significant costs for consumers via their electricity bills.
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 ModelTM 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.
EA Technology in partnership with Element Energy 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 can meet the anticipated increase in electricity demand out to 2050. This project investigated a range of innovative solutions ranging from innovative use of existing network-assets, development of customer side energy storage and changes in design policies. Using the Transform ModelTM these were analysed to understand which combinations of solutions would deliver the most cost-effective solutions and therefore provide guidance on where efforts should be spent on research and policy decisions.
This presentation will provide an overview of the forecast capacity constraints facing the distribution networks, the different technologies available to support them and the recommendations for ensuring our electricity system is fit for the future at minimal cost.