Data analytics reveals EV and PV use is higher than expected

There could be at least 13% more households with electric vehicles and solar panels on the low voltage electricity network than previously thought.

This was revealed in the Low Carbon Technologies (LCT) Detection Project, led by ElectraLink in partnership with IBM and funded by Western Power Distribution (WPD). It looked at six years’ of structured and freeform data using advanced analytics and machine learning and  found indications of a combined total of 15,000 previously unknown electric vehicles and solar panels connected to WPD’s local low voltage electricity network.

The findings have paved the way for the development of proof of concept models that could hugely benefit the energy system going forward.

The project has also revealed valuable insights around energy consumption in general including:

  • 25% reduction in domestic electricity usage following solar panel installation
  • 5% increase in energy consumption where electric vehicle charge points are installed.

The project also found that the number of Vs and solar panels was high in rural areas, considering the density of the population. The findings also show that electric vehicles and solar panels are more prevalent in affluent areas while solar panels are also present in areas of high deprivation, possibly due to leasing of social housing roof space for solar panels.

Rising electric vehicle ownership and solar panel use is contributing to improved air quality through reducing noxious transport emissions and driving new demand for smart charging and other smart solutions. But these necessitate visibility of where electric vehicles and solar panels are connected to distribution networks at local level. Until now, this has proved difficult for Distribution Network Operators.

ElectraLink’s energy market dataset combined with WPD’s electric vehicle and photovoltaic data provides better visibility of new demand and generation on the network at household level. This will support network planning and avoid unnecessary and potentially costly and disruptive reinforcement measures.

Roger Hey, DSO systems and project manager at WPD, said “This project is an example of how data and other intelligence is being used to drive innovation and facilitate the increase of electric vehicles and other low carbon technologies through better visibility. The project has significant implications and benefits for network planners who are using the data.”

Laurence Carpanini from IBM added “Western Power Distribution is taking a lead in digitalising its network planning capability. This project has proven that intelligent use of data can accelerate the infusion of advanced analytics and machine learning in Western Power Distribution’s business to drive innovation.”