How We Are Managing Losses
We install a minimum cable size of 300mm2 at 11kV where practical (e.g. if bending radii and termination arrangements allow) and continue to install a minimum of 300mm2 mains low voltage (LV) cables that are of a larger capacity than the minimum size option, having taken into account capitalised electrical losses in the assessment of lifetime cost within our designs.
We will continue with our current distribution transformer ‘oversizing’ policy for pole and ground-mounted transformers with demand customers connected. However, for distribution transformers with dedicated solar or wind generation connected we do not oversize the transformer, as the intermittent generation profiles do not justify the cost for an increased transformer size. We will continue with our current policy to purchase transformers that have lower electrical losses than the minimum cost units available based on having taken into account capitalised electrical losses in the assessment of lifetime cost rather than simply purchase price.
We are a member of a group that includes many of the UK’s main energy companies with a national initiative to tackle electricity theft: STAY ENERGY SAFE. This is a dedicated platform for members of the public, landlords, business owners and employees to report energy theft. Our role is to contribute to raise awareness around the initiative, and to share background information helping to solve reported cases.
We are working with Newcastle University on a project to build a losses forecasting reference network model. This project will run until 2020 with an aim to better understand and quantify losses so that we can better manage them. Further findings from the project were release during 2019, including dissemination at the International Conference on Electricity Distribution (CIRED) conference.
LOSSES ON CUSTOMER SIDE OF METER
We commissioned the consultancy WSP to undertake a study investigating the impact of voltage and harmonic variations on domestic customer losses, which includes how DNO actions have an effect on the losses on the customers’ internal wiring and their appliances, the impact of low carbon technologies on customers’ supplies as well as the impact of customers’ actions and behaviours towards losses on their side.
TRANSFORMER HEAT RECOVERY
In parallel with our decarbonisation effort, we worked with Arup to look into the roll-out of this technology into business as usual. This report discussed the economic and technical feasibility of these solutions and the opportunities on our network.
AMORPHOUS TRANSFORMER TRIALS
We are collaborating with other DNOs and a transformer manufacturer to trial the super low-loss amorphous core transformers on our network using standard working procedures. This should help to allay technical concerns around brittleness, size, weight, harmonics and noise in preparation for Ecodesign Tier 2 maximum loss levels for transformers which will come into force in 2021.
We've organised and been actively involved in key events and dialogues to engage with stakeholders and communities to present and discuss our losses initiatives. We've also produced an animation to help educate customers on what network losses are and how they can be reduced.
SMART METER DATA
We worked with The University of Sheffield to deliver a project on smart meter data. The primary goals were to determine how a DNO can derive business benefit from smart meter data, whilst providing key recommendations into how this can be done. The key findings in terms of losses were 1) Increasing the time resolution of customer demand data can underestimate losses. For example, using 30-minute average demand data (the de-facto industry standard) can lead to losses underestimation by 23% compared to one-minute average data. 2) Aggregating customer demand data can overestimate losses. For example, aggregating six customers’ consumption can lead to losses overestimation by 130% compared to no aggregated consumption.
We have rolled out more than 200 pieces of monitoring equipment to analyse and increase the visibility of our low voltage (LV) network for continued investment, planning and design as well as facilitating the future of low carbon technology (LCT). This includes analysis on losses, which counts for about one-third of the total losses in the distribution network.
Since 2015, more than 1,000 high voltage (HV) feeders have been assessed to optimise open points to balance load and customer numbers. In turn, this should reduce losses. In an extreme example when an open point is moved from an interconnected primary substation to the mid-point losses are reduced. For a typical feeder pair to be optimised we estimate around 26MWh/year would be saved or (£1,300/year).
ELECTRIC NETWORK ASSOCIATION(ENA) LOSSES TASKFORCE
We are a member of this working group. The group commissioned a study to investigate the impact of low carbon transition on technical losses. The use of smart solutions as an alternative to conventional reinforcement is expected to increase losses; however Northern Powergrid will only implement smart solutions where they are economic from a whole system perspective. The group is also working on the losses incentive mechanism for ED2, as well as continuing to share our respective learning on losses understanding, optimising the losses stakeholder engagement through alignment of local communications and industry-wide event collaboration.
IMPLEMENTATION INTO BUSINESS AS USUAL
As part of a wider change management exercise driven by Northern Powergrid’s Smart Grid Implementation Unit, all high voltage and extra high voltage design engineers (employees and contractors) have received formal training in how to incorporate losses into their designs.