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UKPN machine learning simulation to unlock 70MW of network capacity

The Envision project will support the increasing numbers of EV chargepoints needing to connect to UKPN's network. Image: UKPN.

The Envision project will support the increasing numbers of EV chargepoints needing to connect to UKPN's network. Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks (UKPN) is using a £2 million machine learning tool to create what it has described as a “Matrix like” simulation of the south east’s electricity network.

The Envision project is simulating how power is flowing through UKPN’s networks, building new predictive models that combine UKPN’s data with external and real-time data from monitoring devices connected to substations.

The machine learning algorithm then creates a simulation of the electrical load in specific areas and expands it across the entire network, with engineers then comparing the simulation to real life physical monitors. This feeds the software more and better data over time so the algorithm gets more accurate.

It’s forecast that Envision could release almost 70MW of capacity by 2028 without a need to physically upgrade the network, saving up to £4 million over the five year period.

This is of particular importance as the number of electric vehicles (EVs)and heat pumps grow, with over 150,000 electric cars and 20,000 heat pumps in areas served by UK Power Networks currently, and analysis that forecasts over 2.6 million electric vehicles and 712,000 heat pumps by 2030.

The freeing up of capacity will therefore enable more low carbon technologies such as EVs and heat pumps to connect.

Last month, UKPN published data showing there had been nearly 2,700 EV chargepoints added across its area in the past twelve months, with there now being over 9,000 chargepoints in London, the east and south east.

Indeed, a total of 40% of all chargepoints in Great Britain are connected to UKPN’s local grids, almost double the volume of any other network operator.

UKPN is collaborating with CKDelta on the new Envision project, which is set to run until August 2022.

Simone Torino, head of product and business development at CKDelta, said: "In a world where the uptake of new distributed energy resources and the increasing electrification of transport are impacting electrical demand and distribution network constraints like never before, having this type of modelling and predictive analytics capabilities is a game changer for the utilities sector and has potential to reshape how we approach demand and supply in other sectors such as transport.”

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