Northern Powergrid has announced it will invest £234.5m in data and digitalisation initiatives from 2023 to 2028, including a £10m increase in annual spending to support decarbonisation.
The Digitalisation Strategy and Actions Plan (DSAP) is one of Northern Powergrid’s key enablers to prioritise investments that improve network operations, support decarbonisation, deliver operational efficiency and a gold-standard service.
The DSAP has been created in alignment with Northern Powergrid’s wider business plan but in particular, links closely with its DSO strategy which sets out the transition to distribution system operation enabled by greater digitalisation and the use of energy system data.
Paul Fitton, Northern Powergrid’s Head of Information Systems, said: “We will significantly expand our use of data for planning and operation of network and customer assets. It will become the key to unlocking new capabilities that we can deploy as we drive towards net zero. Across our business, the investment in data and digitalisation will modernise the way that we operate, driving down costs and setting the groundwork for a smarter system to benefit all of our customers.”
The Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire recently announced plans to create more than 1,000 jobs to meet the needs of managing a smarter, more connected and more digital energy system. Northern Powergrid’s business plan sets the blueprint for the types of data-focused roles that the network operator intends to create, and will deliver improvements across all areas of the business:
- Customers will have better access to critical information and be empowered to take connections and other network decisions into their own hands through a new website and self-service capability, powered by AI and richer data sources.
- Cyber resilience measures will be stronger and more robust thanks to investments in detection and response technologies.
- Data-driven, accurate forecasting about electric vehicle (EVs) and heat pump uptake will help Northern Powergrid prepare the network for decarbonisation and support the burgeoning low carbon technology industries – boosting regional jobs and green economic growth.
The DSAP - and Northern Powergrid’s draft business plan - also highlight the benefits that increased digitalisation can deliver. For instance, a potential £90.2m in savings is expected to come from the £29.5m investment in advanced analytics and network management over the 2023-28 period.
These savings demonstrate the value of utilising data to better inform and target maintenance work. The £6.6m of this investment earmarked for advanced analytics capabilities using cloud platforms is expected to:
- Save £42.5m using Thor hammer data analysis to better target replacement of wooden poles.
- Save £6.0m by analysing and replacing worst-performing low voltage cables.
- Save £8.1m by targeting high-risk electricity cut-outs.
Underpinning the DSAP is Northern Powergrid’s commitment to open data to ensure that customers and stakeholders benefit from a greater understanding of the network that powers their lives.
Paul Fitton added: “We are building our rich bank of knowledge and information and helping stakeholders’ access this more easily. It is essential that we become a trusted source of data for local businesses, planners and decision makers to help them make more informed decisions that will benefit communities and support regional decarbonisation.”
This plan has been developed from customer engagement and prioritises the key aspects of digitalisation that customers want. Northern Powergrid has held 25 engagement events on digitalisation to gather customer feedback and align the investment with customer priorities.
Customers and other key stakeholders wishing to view and share feedback on the DSAP can email email@example.com or can view and comment on Northern Powergrid’s draft business plan through the dedicated website ed2plan.northernpowergrid.com. From September onwards, Northern Powergrid will deliver another wide-reaching engagement campaign to ensure people across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire have the chance to say if they agree with and accept its final proposals to improve the electricity distribution network that powers their lives.