Electric vehicle ownership supported by SSEN through low-cost, data-gathering substation monitors

In the north of Scotland SSEN worked with two equipment providers - Eneida and Lucy Electric Gridkey – to test over 200 of the low cost monitors, setting out to prove that a reduction in cost didn’t equate to a reduction in quality of the required data; during the 24-month test period the equipment met all requirements for data accuracy and performance with a 70% reduction in cost when compared to equipment used in earlier innovation projects. 

With this performance and cost reduction, SSEN is in the process of rolling out monitoring equipment across its networks in central southern England and the north of Scotland to gain a greater visibility of the low voltage network in a business-as-usual environment, where previously this was a practice that had only been tested in projects.  

Three hundred and thirty-five units are now being installed across networks where a high level of electricity demand and EV uptake has been indicated.  

SSEN’s EV Readiness Manager, Richard Hartshorn, explains further: 

“By using these low cost, low voltage substation monitors SSEN has been able to gain visibility of these networks and examine the information in the suppliers’ back-office data and analytics platforms.  

“This allows teams from across the business to easily view the electricity demand on a given secondary substation - as well as each individual phase of its feeders - with near real-time visibility and historical data available to view and analyse. Additional functionality available from these analytics platforms allows us to have alarms generated when a network nears its limits, identify how best to optimise capacity on a particular network, monitor power quality and also understand imbalance and losses. 

“This further benefits us by ensuring that we proactively manage both our networks and our customer expectations, and better prioritise investment in our networks. This is a key part of our drive to support EV uptake by assessing networks where we are seeing high levels of uptake. In turn, this helps to support more efficient connections, which can be achieved through the increased visibility and analysis of historical data.” 

In the run up to April 2020, SSEN plans to install a further 500 of these low cost monitors. These units will be deployed across the SSEN licence areas, from rural networks in Orkney in the North to urban networks in West London in the south, with 100 units dedicated to supporting the Project LEO initiative in Oxfordshire.

Richard continued: “This move is key to supporting SSEN’s transition to a distribution system operator (DSO). It will enable us to better manage our assets and crucially provide customers with a system which can facilitate their move to a decentralised and decarbonised future where smart EV charging, home storage, micro generation and peer-to-peer trading are all likely to require a more granular view of the low voltage electricity networks, and more intelligent operation.”

Carlos Pina Teixeira, CEO at Eneida said: "We are proud to work alongside SSEN, expanding upon the Eneida DeepGrid platform capabilities, and supporting SSEN’s EV ambitions.

"Eneida DeepGrid, allows network operators to quickly deploy smart sensors that provide improved data visibility, and by using Eneida’s Data Analytics Applications can improve capacity optimisation and electric vehicle integration. 

He added, "We look forward to continuing to discover, develop and optimise solutions for low voltage grids. This work with SSEN will drive a cleaner, more reliable and affordable network for UK households.”

Paul Beck, Director, Lucy Electric GridKey added: “The ability to provide visibility of the LV electricity network is essential in supporting the uptake of EVs and other low carbon technologies and is an important element of Lucy Group’s strategy in this area.

“The partnership with SSEN has given us the opportunity to further enhance and improve our LV monitoring and data analytic solutions to provide the actionable information needed to manage networks in the future.”

The above image shows an engineer installing the monitoring equipment at a substation.


About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

Read more articles by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks