Why does NIE Networks need to know about the Connection of LCT’s?

As the number of electric vehicles on our roads increase, so to does the demand on our electricity network. Likewise, as air source and ground source heat pumps become more common, the demand on our network will be increased further. With additional low carbon technologies (e.g. battery storage) being connected to the electricity network in the future, it is critical to manage the transition effectively to avoid constraints on any connections and ensure safety on the network is maintained.


Safety Concerns

There are numerous reasons why NIE Networks may need to be contacted before the installation of a Low Carbon Technology can take place; these include supply overload, damage to supply equipment, power quality issues or adequacy of earthing.  If these issues are identified but not reported prior to installation, our customers are at risk.

Even when the NIE Networks cut out rating is known by the installer, the ratings and utilisation of all local distribution network assets require consideration, and cannot be ascertained without contacting ourselves.

To put this into some context, analysis1 previously carried out by some network operators across the UK suggests that approximately 20% of domestic properties have a supply capacity rated at 60A or less and that approximately 15% of domestic supplies have looped services meaning their point of connection is shared with a neighbouring property.  Without identifying loops and subsequently unlooping them, these properties are more likely to exceed supply capacity with the additional load from a heat pump or an EV charging.

As part of the same analysis1 mentioned above, a sample of 3073 Electric Vehicle  charge point notifications received by UK network operators showed that 1903 (61%) had not requested the property’s supply capacity from the DNO before installation despite the Maximum Demand (MD) of the property exceeding 60A.  A proportion of these properties were later found to have a supply capacity of 60A or less meaning the installations were potentially dangerous.

Visibility Concerns

When we do not receive notification of Low Carbon Technology installations, we are unable to map the increased network load associated with the rollout of these technologies.  This leads to incomplete modelling, which can in turn cause inadvertent stress on assets and ineffective and uneconomic asset replacement programmes – the cost of which is passed onto Northern Ireland consumers.

When comparing UK network operator EV notification numbers1 with OLEV Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme numbers, one particular analysis showed that Network Operators are receiving as little as 3% of the number of notifications that OLEV receives, despite this being a requirement in order to receive the OLEV grant. 

1 Based on 2017 figures

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