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OpenLV project proposes opening up local electricity usage data to improve EV charging

A new initiative in the UK is proposing opening up data from local electricity substations to provide network operators with much-needed information about levels of capacity for charging EVs on local electricity networks.

Currently, asserts the OpenLV project, electricity network operators don’t have enough information about how much spare capacity there is on local electricity networks. This makes it difficult to know whether a cluster of EVs charging at peak times will push the demand over the limit. The OpenLV project will, for the first time, open up data from local substations, so that Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), as well as third parties such as businesses and academia, will have more information about whether networks can cope with rising EV numbers.

If the data highlights a potential capacity issue, then other initiatives could be implemented—such as smart charging, vehicle to grid technology, energy storage, or joining networks together—in preference to more costly and disruptive infrastructure reinforcement works.

The OpenLV project, led by project partners Western Power Distribution and EA Technology, is inviting the submission of ideas for how data from local electricity networks could be used to develop new apps to help manage the charging of increasing numbers of EVs, as well as for other uses.

As part of the OpenLV project, OpenLV software will be installed in 80 Low Voltage (LV) distribution substations located in Western Power Distribution’s (WPD’s) licence areas—the Midlands, the South West and South Wales. The software could ultimately be deployed in every LV and High Voltage (HV) substation in Great Britain.

These 80 trial substation devices will be used to show how the overall solution can:

  • Release additional network capacity from existing LV network assets

  • Be used to enable the development of community or customer-driven apps

  • Be used to enable companies (including non-energy companies) to develop innovative apps.

At a time when the automotive and energy sectors are collaborating increasingly closely, the car industry and EV charging companies are invited to get involved in the OpenLV project.

A well-known case study relates to the opening up of data by Transport for London (TfL) to allow commercial organizations to develop apps to assist people with traveling across the capital. There are now hundreds of apps built on the back of TfL’s data, which reach millions of London transport users and deliver tens of millions in monetized time savings to its core customer base, all for relatively low investment.revp

Organizations or individuals with ideas for apps that could be developed as part of the OpenLV project are invited to complete a survey to register their interest.

The OpenLV project was launched at Western Power Distribution’s ‘Balancing Act’ event, which took place in London on 5 October 2017. The project is funded by Ofgem through the Network Innovation Competition (NIC). The OpenLV project is led by EA Technology, a trusted third-party innovation technology deliverer, and will be delivered in partnership with Western Power Distribution. Key project suppliers include Nortech and Lucy Electric GridKey.

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