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Low Voltage Networks: the new frontier of Energy Transition

The Low Voltage Network, the missing link

LV public distribution networks are neither monitored nor automated. Reinforcements and modernization planning are based on the supposed obsolescence of equipment, theoretical load curves, and basic tools, leading to substantial safety coefficients.

However, they account for 70% of fixed assets and generate 50% of operating costs.

New usages brought by energy transition, such as photovoltaic production, electric vehicles and self-consumption, must be integrated in the operation and planning of LV public distribution networks.

In the same time, the current deployment of smart meters offers the first large scale observation tool for Low Voltage networks. This opens new opportunities that are yet to be explored.

Barriers to the energy transition

Reinforcements planning

Network planning aims to identify constrained or obsolete equipment to reinforce or replace them.

However, traditional planning processes are based on theoretical criteria and use significant safety margins. This method therefore does not allow precise planning of the required investments. As a result:

  • 30% of investments could be avoided by accounting for the real use of the network
  • 30% of poorly supplied customers are not identified

Decentralized production integration

Network design and settings limit the insertion of photovoltaic production to 20 or 30% of the consumed power. Long before this threshold, voltage excursions and inverter disconnections start occurring.

Conventional solutions involve either a long and expensive network reinforcement, either a limitation of the produced power. The consequences include a loss of production, reduced penetration capacity, and delays that cause complaints and degrade the image of the network operator.

Energy efficiency

Non-technical losses, which are spread along low-voltage networks and therefore difficult to detect, represent 1.5 k€ per MV/LV substation each year.

They bring financial losses for the operator, network overloads and equipment damages.

Operating costs

The lack of knowledge of the actual state of low-voltage networks, along with the cartography errors, significantly increase the operating and maintenance costs. As an example, the time required to locate faults and find a recovery scheme is widely impacted by this lack of knowledge.

Odit-e answer

Odit-e is the result of the meeting of electrical distribution experts from Schneider with academic researchers from Grenoble-INP. They all share the same diagnosis and a common vision of the potential solutions.

With forty years of cumulative experience in public distribution markets and six years of research on network modelling, they combine their skills to develop innovative solutions and to help distribution network operators face these new challenges.

Odit-e France

Theme from Arturo Mondragón