Low carbon project celebrates customer recruitment milestone

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A leading UK energy project is celebrating a landmark milestone after successfully recruiting more than 12,000 customers to take part in a series of unique monitoring trials.

Thousands of homes and businesses across the Northeast and Yorkshire in the £54m Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) project – the largest energy project of its type in the UK – and will have their electricity needs monitored and analysed over the next 12 months.

Many of the customers also have new low carbon technologies installed, including heat pumps, solar panels and electric vehicle charging points, and this diversity will help the project to work out what the UK’s energy demand will look like in a low carbon future.

Dr Liz Sidebotham, CLNR Communications Manager, said: “We’re delighted to have reached such an exciting stage of this project and a lot of hard work from the project partners at Northern Powergrid, British Gas, EA Technology and Durham University has enabled us to reach this point.

“We’ve faced a number of challenges along the way, but we’ve overcome them by working together and it’s a significant achievement that we have been able to engage with such a wide range of energy customers.

“With the recruitment process now complete and all of the low carbon technology installations finalised, we’re now monitoring over 12,000 different customers with different energy needs to work out how and when they use, or in some cases generate electricity.”

The UK’s energy industry has not undertaken a monitoring exercise on this scale and of this complexity and richness before and the introduction of low carbon technologies continues to change customer demand patterns and put greater demand on the electricity network.

Part-funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund, the CLNR project is aiming to help solve the problems caused by peak demand through practical and cost-effective solutions that meet the demands of a low carbon future and allow more people to switch to greener technologies.

Dr Sidebotham added: “The monitoring phase is a crucial part of this project because the electricity needs of someone with no low carbon technologies will be very different from someone with solar panels and an electric car, and we need to understand how they vary.

“We have 22 different trials in place involving a range of customers with various technologies, so once we can build an accurate energy profile for each group, we will be well placed to work out what can be done to help best manage the network at peak times while cost-effectively accommodating increased take up of LCTs in the future.”

A report published by the environmental think-tank charity, Sustainability First, highlights some of the key achievements and challenges encountered during the CLNR recruitment process.

The full report can be downloaded from the project website by visiting www.networkrevolution.co.uk..

About the Customer-Led Network Revolution project

The Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) project, part-funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund, aims to understand how the use of low carbon technologies, such as solar panels, electric vehicles and heat pumps, impact on the current electricity grid network.

The project is trialling innovative smart grid technology and working with thousands of electricity customers to give them more flexibility and choice over the way they use and generate electricity.

Findings from the project will provide guidance on how to meet the UK’s future energy needs via the deployment of smart grid technologies and help the industry ensure the UK’s electricity networks are prepared for the mass introduction of low carbon technologies.

Although the new technologies being trialled are predominantly based in the Northeast and Yorkshire regions, the knowledge generated will be made readily available to promote understanding across the energy industry as a whole.

The key partners in the project are Northern Powergrid (www.northernpowergrid.com), British Gas (www.britishgas.co.uk), EA Technology (www.eatechnology.com) and Durham University (www.dur.ac.uk).

For further information about the CLNR project, visit the website at www.networkrevolution.co.uk

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