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Delivering a smart and secure electricity system: government consultation

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Transparent
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Posted by: @ianmk13

Here is NGED's policy document: NGED Standardisation of Fusing to 80A

Thanks for that link @ianmk13 - and that Notice conflicts with explanations given to me by local network engineers.
However, it is issued by Seth Treasure. He is the senior NGED engineer responsible for their technical standards.

Let's note also that this is an NGED internal decision, not one agreed universally by other members of the ENA.

I appreciate that there are locations where the DNO LV infrastructure is suffering thermal stress due to high currents being drawn.
Of particular concern are post-war estates which still use the original underground cables.

However, my view of those sites is that the most serious degradation of insulation is occurring due to phase-imbalance.
That's causing current to flow in the neutral which isn't fused at the substation.
So I had expected the primary strategy would be to counteract that phase imbalance.

Ph N imbalance

Since Service Fuses are sized such that they offer protection to the cables, I know that specific sites have been offered lower EV Charger rates than they had requested.
Some sites on the 440-home trial of the Kaluza/Indra V2G charger weren't permitted to have chargers operating at the full 7kW, for example.

Moving to 80A fusing will likely have the side effect of more home-owners considering storage batteries - especially systems with zero export to the grid.

 

This post was modified 1 month ago by Transparent

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(@derek-m)
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@transparent

When considering the overall electricity supply system there would appear to be two main factors, one being the variation in supply and demand, the other being phase imbalance.

I suspect the supply and demand variation is more of an issue on the HV bulk supply sections of the system, though as more an more homes move to becoming all electric, this will also become more apparent at the LV local supply areas.

I suspect phase imbalance is more of a problem at local level, where larger load items such as EV chargers and heat pumps can quickly increase the loading on one of the phases with regard to the other two.

While TOU tariffs may be useful in helping smooth the supply and demand issue, they may actually be having a detrimental affect when it comes to phase imbalance, and also could contribute to local system overload.

In an ideal world demand would be spread as evenly as possible throughout the 24 hours of the day, but would also be varied to minimise loading on the various sections of the supply system, and also to help reduce phase imbalance.

There is no simple one size fits all solution.


   
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(@ianmk13)
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@derek-m   - The electricity supply industry relies on 'diversity' with regard to phase balancing and hopes for a reasonable balance of loads across the phases.  This becomes harder to realise as individual loads become greater.

@transparent - @editor's original post highlights the future controls that will be required along with this 'squeezing' of supply to ensure security of supply. Although it is expected that this 'balancing' of demand will occur automatically, people will have to become more accustomed to giving consideration to the availability of their electricity supply.  As you suggest, home batteries will play a part, but that simply moves the time of demand so I'm not quite sure where we're heading with regard to ToU tariffs. Maybe we'll end up with tariffs based on household load at any given time.


   
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(@derek-m)
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As more consumers install EV chargers, Heat Pumps and even battery storage, this may help reduce phase imbalance, if they are evenly spread across the 3 phases and all switch their devices on and off at the same time, but this may then lead to the problem of overloading due to the lack of sufficient diversity.

A further problem could be that consumer's in more affluent areas may be more likely to install such devices, thereby creating problems in their particular locality.

While I fully support any method of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, I still feel that careful thought needs to be given when major changes are being proposed. There needs to be more and better methods of energy storage and utilisation.

Rather than charging EV's over a 4 hour period at say 7kW, would it not be better to do so over longer time periods at lower power? This I believe is also better for the battery.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Mars

   
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(@eggnchips)
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@transparent Thanks for that. I try to track what the Government agencies are up to but we missed that one.

It looks like the Government are pretending to do something but I cannot see the DCC or Capita (or Crapita as Private Eye calls them) making any difference here. They have a reputation for poor software systems (any teacher will remember SIMMS).

The problems that I face are not so much the connection to the internet (we get about 0.1 Mbs upload) but the fact that there are so many incompetent agencies involved in a successful installation of a meter (EDF, Scottish Power, Morrisons), none of whom talk to each other!

Also, none of the engineers seem to understand how Economy-7 systems work. We had an E7 dual rate system with a clock (not radio). The solar panel installer removed the clock and  turned off the dual rate. The installer passes the buck to the DNO and says a smart meter will solve the problem. EDF/Morrisons installed a single rate meter which, of course, has no WAN connection and no dual rate. I would be happy to read the meter manually and post the readings but the meter does not show a dual rate.

After 18 months, I are still trying to get a working meter installed.

I pay double for my electricity as the night-time rate has been turned off. 

Isn't technology wonderful?


   
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(@chickenbig)
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This will come across as judgemental, but having looked at the tariff data accessibility document I can't help but see design-by-committee. I could go on about the tariff data accessibility piece, but time is too fleeting to make a coherent response to this.

At the higher level I wonder how the benefits of demand side response will map to constraints of the current system (generation, high voltage distribution, transformer constraints, last mile distribution). Presumably demand side response needs to be location and topology aware (e.g. what happens when DSR affects one phase on one transformer more than others). From what @Transparent has posted elsewhere in the forum, the details very much affect the value proposition.


   
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Transparent
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Posted by: @eggnchips

I try to track what the Government agencies are up to but we missed that one.

I'm in the loop because I'm a Member of the SEC 🙂 

Who is 'we' in the phrase "but we missed that one"?
Do you work in the energy sector or a community group, for example?

 

Posted by: @eggnchips

The solar panel installer removed the clock and  turned off the dual rate.

What authority did a solar panel installer have to remove that clock?

Engineers who install/adjust anything related to metering must be approved to work under the CoMCoP regulations (Consolidated Metering Code of Practice) which you can obtain here from the RECC portal (Retail Energy Code Company).

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(@eggnchips)
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@transparent 

Who is 'we' in the phrase "but we missed that one"?

The "we" is just the wife and I. We have been into energy conservation since the 1970's. She was one of the first members of Friends of the Earth.

"Engineers who install/adjust anything related to metering must be approved to work under the CoMCoP regulations."

I am sure this is true but who is going to police it? Legalities such as these are for people with lots of money, not pensioners.

 


   
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Transparent
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Since it seems unlikely that your solar installer is permitted to work on metering, you have a claim against him under the Consumer Rights Act.

He can't pass that problem off to your Energy Supplier to resolve...
... because they don't appear to have the capability to implement the E7-tariff which you had previously enjoyed.

I don't know how that clock was connected into the system, nor whether it had mains contacts.
But DNOs have a vested interest in stopping unlicensed people from tampering with meter equipment.
CoMCoP approval is a concession agreed with DNOs (members of the Electrical Networks Association) which allows access to connections which are otherwise the sole preserve of DNOs own engineers.

In your situation I would be emailing my DNO to alert them and ask for advice.

 

And anyways, whyever would a solar installer want to remove that clock?!

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(@eggnchips)
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@transparent Like I said, the Consumer Rights Act is for people with lawyers and a lot of time.

"And anyways, whyever would a solar installer want to remove that clock?!"

Installing meters for energy saving systems is not the trivial task that the marketing fluff tells you about. 

Our meter cabinet, (although quite large) was running out of room as it had two distribution units, one for night storage heaters, a clock and a dual rate meter. The night storage heaters were no longer used because I installed an ASHP.

When an engineer came to install the PV system, he did not have room to install a solar meters, connectors etc. He, therefore, removed the clock. The clock seemed superfluous as I no longer had night storage heaters.  Unfortunately, a side effect of this is that it stopped the dual rate.

The next engineer came to install a smart meter but said there was not enough room to install it as it was three times larger than my original meter. I had to pay another solar engineer to move the solar meter to make room for the new smart meter.

Three, maybe four engineers later - I have lost count - we are left with a smart meter, no WAN connection and a single rate even though I still have a contract for a dual rate.

In your situation I would be emailing my DNO to alert them and ask for advice.

Contacting the DNO is like pulling teeth. I have been calling and emailing them for 18 months. First they said I could not have a smart meter (no reason given). Then I asked again when I was considering solar panels. An appointment for an engineer takes 6 months. I am still waiting for an engineer to install the correct meter. 
It is a sorry tale of incompetence and bad communication. We have now given up asking the DNO and are paying the single rate tariff until our contract runs out at the end of this year. 


   
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(@derek-m)
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Posted by: @eggnchips

@transparent 

Who is 'we' in the phrase "but we missed that one"?

The "we" is just the wife and I. We have been into energy conservation since the 1970's. She was one of the first members of Friends of the Earth.

"Engineers who install/adjust anything related to metering must be approved to work under the CoMCoP regulations."

I am sure this is true but who is going to police it? Legalities such as these are for people with lots of money, not pensioners.

 

Some photo's of your system may be of use in resolving your problem. Before the system was changed did you have one dual rate meter or two single rate meters? What function did the clock perform?

 


   
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(@eggnchips)
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Thanks for the offer of help, @derek-m , but I think I am well past that stage.

My comments were really aimed at the subject "Delivering a smart and secure electricity system". From my experience the delivery and roll out of smart meters has been a car crash driven by incompetent sub-contractors, lack of communication and absence of regulation. There are long lead times for DNO engineers or their sub-contractors to install/repair and service smart meters. There is a lack of understanding and unwillingness of the DNOs to cope with old energy saving systems (e.g. dual rate systems such as Economy-7) - after all aren't we supposed to be reducing energy costs. The time-line for the roll-out of country-wide WAN systems, which the government heavily depends on, has been extended many times over the years. On top of all this, since the beginning of 2021, 31 energy companies  have ceased trading. In view of this terrible track record ...

My questions for the government consultation would be:
1. can they deliver a smart and secure electricity system in the payback period suggested and how would they measure their results?
2. what is the lead time for future smart meter installations and/or repairs. Will it be months or years and for which regions? What assumptions have been made in the forecasts.
3  does the government have the assumed resources that it needs to carry out this delivery. What are those assumptions?
4. will dual rate systems be abandoned in the future?
5. does the delivery of the smart electricity system depend on WAN coverage and to what degree?
6. has the timeline for completion taken into account the probability of default of the energy companies?

I can' really see anyone answering these questions but it may give someone food for thought in the years of chaos to come.


   
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