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Northern Powergrid to invest £234.5m in digitalisation

The digitalisation strategy sets out a number of new roles that will need to be created to decarbonise. Image: Northern Powergrid.

The digitalisation strategy sets out a number of new roles that will need to be created to decarbonise. Image: Northern Powergrid.

Network operator Northern Powergrid is to invest £234.5 million in data and digitalisation initiatives.

In its new Digitalisation Strategy and Actions Plan (DSAP) it lays out its priorities for investment between 2023 and 2028. This includes a £10 million increase in its annual spending on decarbonisation.

It outlines the types of data-focused roles Northern Powergrid intends to create, as well as its plans to improve access to critical information for customers that will help them connect devices to the network through a new website and self-service capability, which will be powered by AI and data sources.

Additionally, the DSAP sets out Northern Powergrid’s plans for developing further cyber resilience and data-driven forecasts about the uptake of electric vehicles and heat pumps in its service area to help it prepare the network for the low carbon technologies.

The network operator has said that digitalisation could bring a number of benefits. For example, the £29.5 million investment in advanced analytics and network management over the five year period could create a potential £90.2 million in savings.

Similarly, the £6.6 million earmarked for advanced analytics capabilities using cloud platforms is expected to save £42.5 million by using the Thor hammer data analysis to target the replacement of wooden poles. Additionally, it could save £6 million by analysing and replacing the worst-performing low voltages cables, and a further £8.1 million by targeting high-risk electricity cut-outs.

“We will significantly expand our use of data for planning and operation of network and customer assets,” said Paul Fitton, Northern Powergrid’s head of Information Systems.

“It will become the key to unlocking new capabilities that we can deploy as we drive towards net zero. Across our business, the investment in data and digitalisation will modernise the way that we operate, driving down costs and setting the groundwork for a smarter system to benefit all of our customers.”

The DSAP includes a commitment to open data to ensure customers and stakeholders can benefit, Northern Powergrid said. It has been developed with engagement from customers, helping to prioritise key aspects of digitalisation.

It builds on the network operators recent draft RIIO-ED2 plan, in which it announced £3.2 billion of funding to support a zero-carbon future and the creation of 1,000 jobs in the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

For more information and to respond to the plan, see here.

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