AI used to monitor EVs and technologies used on low voltage network

Western Power Distribution (WPD), ElectraLink and IBM have joined forces to launch a  virtual monitoring (VM) data project, funded through WPD’s Network Innovation Allowance.

The VM Data project will enable WPD to identify and monitor the status and distribution of electric vehicles and low carbon technologies on its low voltage network by analysing data from ElectraLink’s Energy Market Data Hub using IBM’s advanced analytics services and IBM Watson Studio, an enterprise data science offering to build and scale AI. The project will investigate the feasibility of creating half-hourly load profiles for WPD customers, that can be fed into a virtual monitoring tool for WPD’s local network.

The tool will use cognitive analytics, a variety of data sets and tested proof of concept model. It will be the first time in the UK that virtual asset monitoring, using customer data, has been attempted on an electricity network. The ability to virtually monitor electric vehicles and other technologies connected at the local level at scale will increase the effectiveness of WPD’s planning, facilitating more deployemnt of these technologies. 

Visibility of electric vehicles and other technologies  on the local electricity network is a major challenge for distribution network operators, who need to know which technologies are connected at a local level so that they can plan their networks, identify ‘hot spots’  and consider where reinforcement or flexibility is required.

WPD Innovation Team manager Jonathan Berry, said, “We will create robust and validated models which we can use to plan, forecast and reduce costs. This project will set the precedent for using data and machine learning to proactively improve, manage and operate electricity networks.”

ElectraLink’s chief executive Stuart Lacey said, “This project fits with ElectraLink’s broader support of data transparency in the GB energy system as our shareholders move towards the distribution system operator archetype.”

Laurence Carpanini, energy solutions leader, IBM Global Business Services, UK and Ireland said, “ This project will prove that intelligent use of data can successfully fuse advanced analytics and machine learning in Western Power Distribution’s business to plan for the rapid uptake of electric vehicles and other technologies in the UK and maintain oversight of their network in the changing energy landscape.”