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We've launched the UK’s first LV support room

02/09/2022

We have opened a pioneering new support room so innovative it can spot potential faults on the electricity network before they happen.

The LV (Low Voltage) Support Room has been set up at our Cambuslang depot on the outskirts of Glasgow and uses advanced monitoring technology to provide real-time information on supplies across its operating area. It analyses data from right across Central and Southern Scotland – covering areas like Ayrshire, Dumfries, Edinburgh and the Borders, Glasgow and Lanarkshire.

LV Support room

Data produced by smart meters and electricity substations highlight where a potential fault may occur on the electricity network, helping engineers find exact locations where repairs are required, sometimes before power drops and customers are even aware of an issue.

Previously, engineers have relied on customers identifying problems and calling the 105 hotline to report an outage and often it could mean digging holes in roads to locate the precise location of the fault and carry out a repair.

Thanks to the innovative setup of the LV Support Room, we are now able to enhance the way faults are located and understood, preventing unnecessary power cuts and helping keep the lights on for homes and businesses all year round.

It also supports future plans for the power network by providing a comprehensive picture of the potential impacts the predicted increase in electricity demand will bring as more and more people make the move to electric vehicles and heat pumps in the march to net zero.

There are plans for the LV Support Room to become a 24/7 operation – expanding the network coverage with the installation of additional monitoring equipment and enhanced smart meter data usage over the next five years. This will allow us to maximise the existing network and identify areas where network upgrades would have the biggest impact.

LV Support room

Craig Arthur, SP Distribution Director (Central & Southern Scotland) at SP Energy Networks, said: “We’re continuously innovating to provide our customers with the best service possible while leading the way towards a greener, electric future. Faults are an unavoidable part of any energy network and our LV Support Room is helping to revolutionise the way we spot and handle problems when they happen.

“It improves network performance, reduces network interruptions and reduces time off supply for our customers. And as more customers apply to connect electric vehicles and heat pumps, the cumulative demand on the electricity network increases significantly and can lead to new or larger infrastructure being required to service that demand. The LV Support Room means we now have a full picture of that demand and can use the data gathered to better inform investment decisions for the LV network – both in terms of where the investment is needed and crucially, when.

“It’s allowing us to maximise our capacity for low carbon technologies, which will help us support the UK to achieve its Net Zero ambitions.”

The modern approach to network management ensures SP Energy Networks is continuing to lead the way towards a greener offering and to prepare the network for future demands from low carbon technologies like electric vehicles and heat pumps.

The LV Support Room was established as a permanent part of SP Energy Networks’ operations following a trial in Cambuslang that identified 30 ‘pre-faulting’ circuits. This saved an estimated £60,000 in equipment damage, stopped unnecessary power cuts and reduced the amount of time customers were without electricity during repairs.

The LV monitors installed on the network that send data back to the support room have been produced by engineering production firm EA Technology and provide real-time analysis of how the network is being used.

Dave A Roberts, Commercial Director at EA Technology, said: “Pre-fault identification opens up a whole new world to owners and operators of power networks, one where likely faults can be intercepted before they happen. We are seeing the monitoring of low voltage networks becoming more commonplace, partly driven by a need to understand changes in demand with the transition to decarbonised energy, but partly as ways to improve resilience at homes and businesses.

“The UK is leading the world in this technology – from small beginnings we now have over 10,000 LV circuits using this pre-fault technology today, which will increase to over 40,000 by the end of the year. EA Technology are delighted to be working with SP Energy Networks on their LV Support Room and in turn, improving the supply quality to its customers.”

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