Network February 2018

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NETWORK / 16 / FEBRUARY 2018 P aul Beck, director of smart grid solutions at Lucy Electric, encourages customers to look at not how much data they can collect, but what that data can be used for, and the actions that will result from it. "What is important to DNOs, and in the transition to DSO, is not data, but information," he says. "You can end up with an awful lot of data – in fact, far more than can be processed. It is extracting the information for analysis that is important." But everyone agrees that data will be critical to network performance as the smart grid evolves. The Energy Networks Association's (ENA) Open Networks scheme and Joint Innovation Strategy (to be published at the end of March) place an emphasis on improving data flows between transmission and distribution networks – both top-down and bottom-up – and on how new online forums such as peer-to-peer trading and community energy marketplaces, as well as new technologies such as Blockchain, will become the means by which networks can exploit data more effectively. As ever, the ultimate aim is managing networks' physical assets more effectively. "Day-to-day, data should one day allow us to operate the network very efficiently," explains Randolph Brazier, head of innovation at the ENA. "Essentially, we should be able to utilise our assets as much as possible, rather than leaving them idle. That increases efficiency. If we can maximise the efficiency of the network and plan for the future, it means we don't have to 'gold-plate' the network. "We won't have to over-reinforce, which would prove to be very costly." Understanding what is going on within the network at a given time is being made more complicated by the development of the smart grid, such as the rapid ramp- up in the adoption of electric vehicles and the electrification of heat. Data flows and visibility at the transmission level are superior to the distribution level, Brazier says, although there is room for improvement with both. "At the distribution level, when we look at distribution behind the meter such as micro-generation and the adoption of more electric vehicles, distribution companies have quite poor visibility." For example, heat pumps have a different load profile and impact on the network. "If the networks can get visibility of these new decentralised technologies, they will be able to run more efficiently. That will prevent the need for costly reinforcement going forward. And all of that is being driven by the decarbonisation of heat and transport." Lucy Electric's GridKey is a medium and low voltage substation monitoring system that can be fitted to the feeders of a substation without interrupting supply to customers. It provides continuous remote monitoring of the substations, as well as timely warnings, status and loading information. The system reduces network maintenance costs and significantly increases knowledge on the status of network medium and low voltage grids. Data from Gridkey can help address faults on networks before they occur, and monitor losses, the™s and power quality. Beck says: "Being able to identify which are your most at-risk circuits is very valuable to the network operator." Storing data Network operators and DNO/DSOs are now pondering how to store and analyse all this data more effectively. There are consider- able challenges involved in this, Beck says. "Data analytics is a very specialised area." DATA ANALY TICS DSOs and data Eighty-five billion. That is the number of data points collected by GridKey, the award- winning substation monitoring system developed by Lucy Electric and Sentec. To put that in perspective, that's the equivalent of approximately 1,300 spreadsheets of information. If data is one of the keys to the smart grid, how can we avoid drowning in it? Ben Hargreaves finds out. A GridKey installation

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