Northern Powergrid to pilot smart meter-enabled voltage optimisation tech


UK distribution system operator Northern Powergrid will pilot new technology that will leverage smart meter data to help consumers improve energy management, as well as optimise network voltage and reduce carbon emissions.

The new voltage optimisation technology Box designed to safely optimise the network voltage (BEET) will be tested from August 2022 in Boston Spa, Wetherby and surrounding areas.

The Boston Spa Energy Efficiency Trial is expected to impact some 15,000 consumers, helping them to save £20 ($27) on their annual bills and cut their carbon footprint by 27kg a year – the equivalent of driving 100km.

If deployed on a wide scale, the trial could save £500 million ($665 million) from customers’ energy bills and a potential 200,000 to two million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from the UK’s annual carbon footprint.

Northern Grid’s engineering team partnered with Fundamentals, GE Digital, Siemens and the University of Sheffield to develop the BEET technology. The BEET-Box will apply an algorithm, developed by Fundamentals, to local smart meter data every 30 minutes.

The voltage optimisation tech will use data on consumer energy usage from smart meters to turn up or down volts on the network to levels that result in optimal energy efficiency for consumers.

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The technology will ensure that adequate voltage is delivered to consumer households in line with the voltage requirements of household appliances. “Households have typically received a higher voltage than most domestic appliances require, “according to the Northern Powergrid statement.

The resulting efficiency savings could also play a part in unlocking network capacity for the anticipated increase in low carbon technologies such as electric vehicle chargers and solar panels, as the region readies for net-zero.

Iain Miller, Head of Innovation at Northern Powergrid, said: “BEET represents a revolutionary application of a well-understood technique that could help to deliver huge capacity savings on parts of our network while saving our customers energy and money. Innovations such as this are a key enabler of our plans to support net-zero. We’re excited to see our smart technology deliver real benefits to our customers and help free up more capacity to decarbonise our region.”  

The development is part of efforts by Northern Powergrid to modernise its services and grid network with advanced technologies and leverage data and digitalisation to deliver the energy transition and achieve net-zero goals.

Northern Powergrid anticipates deploying the solution to 80% of its 3.9 million consumers by 2033.

The results of the trial will be shared with fellow electricity network operators to potentially deliver benefits at a national level.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate at Leeds City Council, added: “This is a really exciting trial. If successful, this technology could help cut everyone’s energy bills while playing a part in helping to ensure our electricity infrastructure is ready for the rapid adoption of plug-in vehicles, cleaner heating and solar panels.

“These benefits will be increasingly important as we continue working to reduce fuel poverty and race to tackle climate change. I would particularly like to thank local resident and innovator Keith Jackson for coming up with the idea that led to the trial and thank Northern Powergrid for developing it to the stage we’re at today.”