Facilitating Low Carbon Technologies
In our RP6 Business Plan we requested, for the first time, an allowance to manage the uptake of Low Carbon Technologies (LCTs) on our network. The Utility Regulator approved this innovation funding. To facilitate this, we used EA Technology’s Transform Model to forecast the likely uptake of LCTs and output the required expenditure to manage the network impact. The Transform Model identified two potential investment strategies that can be deployed “ Business as Usual (BaU)” or a “smart incremental” strategy.
•A BaU strategy uses conventional solutions only to reinforce the network (e.g. bigger transformer or thicker cables or overhead lines).
•A smart incremental strategy uses either conventional solutions, smart technologies or customer based solutions (e.g. demand side management) to manage the network impact, depending on which offers the best overall solution for our customers on a case by case basis.
The Transform Model outputted that there would be significant financial benefit to customers by adopting a smart incremental strategy when compared to a BaU strategy, demonstrated by the Total Expenditure (TOTEX) figures shown below:
However, before beginning to avail of these benefits we need to have suitably trialled smart and customer based solutions on our network.
Developing Innovative Solutions
Over the past decade there has been a plethora of innovation projects undertaken by GB DNOs facilitated through various regulatory mechanisms. We are well placed to leverage the learning from these activities to the betterment of NI customers, however, it should be noted that these significant strides forward in GB are not directly transferrable and require tailoring to integrate smart and customers based solutions into business as usual here in Northern Ireland. With that in mind, our approach to innovation during RP6 is to be a “fast follower”, integrating suitably advanced smart and customer based solutions into business as usual. We plan to do this by undertaking a programme of focused pilots with the objective of developing cost effective alternatives to conventional network investment. Read more about these projects and how we selected them within Our Innovation Projects section of our website.
Evolving from a DNO to a DSO
As well as developing technical innovative solutions it is also recognised that to manage the future distribution network there will need to be changes to the roles and responsibilities of DNOs, a change often described as the evolution of a DNO to a Distribution System Operator (DSO). Within the DNO – DSO Evolution section of our website read about how we are developing this vision by working with the Energy Networks Association (ENA) on their Open Networks Project and asking our customers for their opinion.