Knowledge Center

Keeping the lights on in a low carbon world

5th May 2020

Getting rid of my own fossil fuel dependence at home is an ambition I’ve had for many years, but I’ll be the first to admit it has taken some time to decarbonise my day to day life. That reflects the progress in the UK to a certain extent; there has been a big success story with renewable generation connecting to the networks, but suddenly more people than ever are having their eyes opened to the urgency of climate change. Even Jeremy Clarkson. As a result, more and more of us are accessing technologies like solar panels, EVs and Heat pumps which significantly reduce our daily carbon footprint. If influencers and celebrities are getting the picture there is going to be a really big change coming to the average household, and therefore to our spindly, unloved street cables and mains.

The solar panels and air source heat pump we’ve installed at home are saving at least two tons in annual CO2 emissions and although we’re getting a financial saving for every carbon-free kilowatt hour we contribute back to the network that was never the driver, the fact is life is much nicer this way.

The electric vehicle purchased eighteen months ago as a second car has rapidly become our go-to mode of transport. We think we save at least 3 tonnes of CO2 a year with it and going all the way to a petrol station to fill our other car with diesel – when we absolutely have to – now feels like a very expensive, slightly shameful, hassle. Plugging in at home is a breeze, even one handed with a baby in the other arm.

Our new lifestyle has slashed household outgoings, rewarding us with a single monthly energy bill that’s far lower than our previous combined costs for electricity, gas and fuel, and a much clearer conscience, but the electricity usage is now huge.

While I’ve been quick to champion the benefits of going off fossil fuels, it’s highlighted my growing dependence on the electricity network… and the consequences if something goes wrong. For my more conventional neighbours, an overnight power cut doesn’t so dramatically affect their ability to heat their home or get to work the next day.

Local mains problems (low voltage faults) means unhappy customers and penalties for network operators. Keeping the lights switched on is central to every DNO’s purpose. And it’s going to be an even tougher challenge for operators in tomorrow’s low carbon world. When my neighbours start catching on to how fabulous heat pumps and EVs are, our increased usage and heavier dependence will make an already fragile, invisible low voltage network even more of a headache for DNOs.

Data – and the insight it provides about networks and end-users – has never been more vital for operators as they prepare for DSO transition. At Kelvatek we’re collecting, aggregating and analysing Gigabytes of data generated by tens of thousands of monitoring devices on these tricky and complex low voltage networks on a daily basis. As well as helping our network operators pinpoint and fix these local faults much more quickly, this information builds an incredible picture of demand and asset health across the country, right down to the mains cable under the street. Armed with these uniquely granular insights, we can help our customers anticipate problems and take remedial action before a fault even occurs.

Why not get in touch – and find out how we can help you see the big picture of your own network and the end-users who depend on it.

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