The UK’s Western Power Distribution unveils real-time power flow data access

Western Power Distribution (WPD), the trading identity of three electricity distribution companies in the United Kingdom: WPD South West, WPD South Wales and WPD Midlands, has today launched what it says is the next wave of its digitalization program with the release of its new Real-Time Power Flow Data Access, providing customers and stakeholders with access to live data on energy production and use across the network of 7.9 million customers.

The new data access tool will allow customers, academics and innovators to view live information on electricity demand, import and generation across the WPD network. The solution will also display historic data, supporting in-depth comparisons and research by third parties. Users will be able to dive into the data, accessing generation split by key types such as solar and wind, providing a deep understanding of the make-up of energy on the network in real-time.

WPD is hoping for three key outcomes for stakeholders:

  1. Better connections and planning – Customers, local councils and low carbon energy developers will have greater information to make informed decisions, helping to plan where to most efficiently connect new EV charging stations, solar or wind farm generation, or where capacity is available for a new housing development. 
  2. Supporting cutting edge research – The real-time data will also assist academics and researchers to better understand the operation of the UK electricity network. In combination with other datasets, WPD’s real-time data will help researchers monitor the UK energy network’s response to live events, such as storms and surges in demand, enabling them to more accurately forecast the UK’s future energy and infrastructure needs. 
  3. Democratizing innovation – Echoing the success of TfL’s open data policy supporting innovative services like Citymapper; by opening up its network data, WPD aims to foster a new generation of smart, low carbon energy innovators. These data-led innovators could develop technologies that automatically help customers to minimize their fuel bills or plan a new grid connection. By allowing greater access to its network data, WPD is empowering a wider group of energy innovators to develop the next big idea.

Jonathan Berry, DSO Digitalization & Data Manager, commented: “Feedback from our customers and stakeholders makes it clear that access to real-time data is a key area of interest. Understanding what is happening across the network on a real-time basis will become increasingly important to our customers, helping them to make better operational decisions.”

Having released the initial tranche of data as part of the program, WPD plans to take the next step by increasing the detail and granularity of the data. This will provide more regional views, right down to primary substation level, further increasing the value to customers. It is planned that this further localized data will be made available in 2021.

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