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WPD turns to ElectraLink and IBM for AI-driven low carbon technology predictions

Image: Shutterstock.

Image: Shutterstock.

Historic datasets and artificial intelligence are to be used to help Western Power Distribution (WPD) predict where new energy technologies like electric vehicles or solar panels will be deployed in the future.

The Low Carbon Technologies (LCT) Detection project will see the distribution network operator (DNO) work with ElectraLink, the UK energy market’s data hub (EMDH), to identify areas where there are growing levels of low carbon technologies.

These datasets will then be combined with Watson Studio, an integrated environment designed by IBM to develop, train and manage models using AI. This technology will aim to tie the data together to provide visibility into where low carbon equipment is located, allowing network planners to assess the existing network capacity and understand how this is likely to change in the future.

IBM UK & Ireland’s energy solution Laurence Carpanini explained that the project will demonstrate how to “accelerate the infusion of AI in WPD’s business to drive innovation”. This will then be used to help facilitate increasing numbers of electric vehicles and other low carbon technologies on local electricity networks.

Roger Hey, future networks manager at Western Power Distribution, added: “Through analysis of historic data and identification of future trends, the project will deliver a virtual monitoring capability that will allow network planners to forecast the locations of ‘hot spots’ of electric vehicles, solar panels and heat pumps.

“This will help us plan for strategic deployment of real-time monitoring as we approach our next investment period.”

The project is the latest initiative involving ElectraLink since the data hub signed an agreement earlier this year with National Grid, allowing the transmission operator to access the half hourly settlement data of almost all export sites connected to the distribution network.

Both this and the LCT Detection project are intended to help move the UK towards a smart, more decentralised system in which grid operators can use data to manage their jurisdictions more effectively.

Stuart Lacey, chief executive at ElectraLink, said: “ElectraLink performs a vital role as the data hub at the centre of the energy market in the UK. Since 2012 we have pioneered the use of market data to facilitate competition and improve the efficiency of the energy market believing that data transparency is good for consumers and the energy industry.

“The LCT Detection project is an excellent example of how ElectraLink is using innovative data analysis to engage with its DNO shareholders in support of their transition to the role of distribution system operators.”

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