LONDON, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Over 400 customers with solar photovoltaic (P V) technology are taking part in innovative smart grid trials, paving the way towards a low carbon Britain.
Solar PV users across North East England and Yorkshire are having their electricity consumption and generation monitored through the Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) - the UK's largest smart grid project.
Durham University academics are studying data from homes and businesses to understand how much electricity PV produces, how much excess goes back into the network, and whether this could be used more efficiently in homes, reducing local demand on electricity networks.
The results of the £54m collaboration between British Gas, Northern Powergrid, EA Technology and Durham University will signpost how to accommodate the widespread uptake of PV and other low-carbon technologies (LCTs), including heat pumps and electric vehicles.
Dr Liz Sidebotham, CLNR Communications Manager, said: "Solar power is an important part of our renewable energy mix. As more people install LCTs, electricity networks not designed to deal with these technologies in high volumes face new challenges.
"Trial data will give us a better understanding of the UK's future energy needs. Initial findings suggest that PV customers are typically more engaged and interested in their energy use than those without LCTs, and use more electricity during the day, during solar energy generation.
"This is interesting as they may consume less energy in the early evening, during peaks in electricity demand when networks are under most pressure."
UK electricity retails for approximately 13p/kwh; solar PV customers can sell their excess generation for 4.64p/kwh, making it economically sensible to use this 'free' energy themselves.
The UK's installed PV capacity reached 1,000 MW in 2012 following low carbon initiatives to encourage uptake, such as Feed-in Tariffs and the Green Deal. Using more of this energy as it is generated would help alleviate the demand on local electricity networks.
Dr Sidebotham added: "We are also trialling automatic load switching, whereby electricity generated by solar panels in the day is automatically used at home. This could help move even more consumption into the day, reducing the early evening peak.
"Finding ways to manage peak demand is critical to accommodate high volumes of LCTs. We're looking for the most practical, cost-effective solutions that give customers more choice over how they use and generate electricity and avoid the need for costly network reinforcement."
For more information on the solar PV trials and CLNR, visit http://www.networkrevolution.co.uk
For more information about this story and the Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) project, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lee Cullen or Lexi Gerry on +44(0)1244-320677.
SOURCE Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR)