Improving visibility helps networks prepare for megashifts in electricity
Lines companies’ readiness to meet the technological challenges of electrification will be greatly enhanced by improved ability to monitor the performance of their low-voltage networks.
The reports by consultancy group Sapere are the latest outputs from the ENA’s Network Transformation Roadmap, which is helping electricity distributors tackle megashifts in production and use of electricity over the next three decades.
These shifts include meeting climate change objectives, new technologies which increase consumer options and system complexity, and enable consumers to be more actively enabled in generating, storing and using electricity.
Graeme Peters, chief executive of the Electricity Networks Association, says large scale electrification of transport and increased uptake of household-level generation are rightly part of New Zealand’s climate change mitigation strategy.
“But to help ensure that networks are still meeting consumers’ needs for reliability and stability, improved visibility of low-voltage networks will be critical to successful network transformation.”
Lines companies are responsible for maintaining and managing the LV networks to ensure supply is reliable, and voltage and frequency meet defined supply quality standards.
This electricity which enters people’s homes comes through local lines companies’ LV networks – which is approximately 230 volts.
Network operators have good real-time visibility over their high and medium-voltage networks (typically 33,000 and 11,000 volts).
But most lines companies want to improve real-time visibility of the status or performance of their LV networks, because the potential mass uptake of newer technologies - such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, batteries, and significant new loads such as electric vehicles - on to local networks increases both operational complexity and safety risks.
Enhanced, real-time ability to monitor LV network status and performance will be critical for the safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity into homes and businesses.
Other work streams under the Network Transformation Roadmap include improving access to smart meter data - further enabling LV visibility – and smoothing the way for consumers to safely connect distributed energy resources such as solar PV panels to networks.
“The roadmap was launched two years ago. A lot of excellent work has been done and more is on the way,” Peters says.
“Given recent policy announcements, the roadmap is currently under review to ensure that it remains on the right course of aiding climate change goals, assisting technology uptake, and demonstrating to decision makers and consumers that distributors are tackling the challenges of decarbonisation in a coordinated way.”
Links to reports: