UK Power Networks’ Neighbourhood Green project will compare real-life data from around 60 houses with a model of a “one in 20” freezing winter, where demand for electricity would be unusually high.
A UK grid operator is undertaking a project to analyse consumer behaviour to understand the exact amount of electricity capacity required to keep people comfortable, especially during the winter period across 2022-23.
UK Power Networks’ Neighbourhood Green project will obtain valuable data on how homeowners with different types of low carbon heating like heat pumps, underfloor heating or panel heaters, are using their systems to keep warm.
Engineers will compare real-life data from around 60 houses with a model of a “one in 20” freezing winter, where demand for electricity would be unusually high. This insight will help UK Power Networks plan its interventions efficiently to secure room on the network for more heat pumps in future.
The grid operator is forecasting that between 300,000 and 700,000 electric heat pumps will operate on its network by 2028. It reports that at peak times, when most people are at home using electricity, the average home could consume 52 per cent more energy with an electric car charger and heat pump.
UK Power Networks is planning £4.6bn investment between 2023 and 2028. The company’s investment proposal covers a range of grid upgrades to make sure people can use low carbon technologies where and when they need, so nobody gets left behind in the transition to net zero.
The project will make use of Energy System Catapult’s and PNDC’s new energy innovation test and evaluation facility – the Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (Wesa) – to monitor energy use by homes with new technologies such as heat pumps and electric car chargers, and digitally map those onto simulated networks.
UK Power Networks is collaborating with Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) and the University of Strathclyde’s PNDC on the Neighbourhood Green project. PNDC and ESC have collaborated to form the Whole Systems Energy Accelerator, which enables interaction between activity in homes and energy networks like UK Power Networks.
Homes participating in the trial will be based across the UK and are all part of ESC’s Living Lab, a real-world test environment of over 200 homes where people trial new energy products and services.
Richard Knight, director for strategy and technology at research hub PNDC, said: “Through WESA – the collaboration between PNDC’s real-world testing and demonstration facilities and the ESC’s Living Lab – we look forward to supporting UK Power Networks’ Neighbourhood Green project in assessing the operational flexibility potential of low carbon technology and accelerating consumer-facing energy innovation.”
Neighbourhood Green is a £818,000 Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) project, which runs from March 2022 to November 2023. NIA was introduced by the energy regulator Ofgem.