First UK homes connect to smart grid

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AND Technology Research has announced it has successfully conducted initial testing of smart grid networking technology in the Oxford village of Hook Norton.

Part of the Hook Norton 'Smart Hooky' initiative, an Ofgem First Tier Low Carbon Network Fund (LCNF) project, the testing has resulted in local homes connecting and 'talking' over a smart grid network. Steven Kear, programmes director and one of the AND team onsite during two test events, pictured, said: "We are delighted with the results from this initial set of testing. The Smart Grid will provide energy companies with the information they need to control and monitor the energy they generate, a vital ingredient in the push for efficient energy use." The equipment developed by AND is designed to provide a two way data path for energy information between homes and energy distribution companies by deploying a technology known as Power Line Communication. This, says AMD, allows a village's existing mains power cables to be used as a power source and also a communication network. This limits changes to the infrastructure which otherwise would be needed. "Utilising the PLC solution in this way, not only provides a communications path but importantly gives fine-grain visibility into a otherwise largely hidden electricity supply network/grid," said Kear. In early February volunteer residents had their properties fitted with a prototype smart node, while substations common to each of the houses were fitted with a smart hub. On activation the nodes and hub automatically formed a network and engineers were able to see how well the energy grid was performing. Following the positive result from this initial testing, the project organisers plan to move to the trials stage. This will involve various scenarios that will be exercised, in addition to testing of the communications back from the hubs' in the substation to a centralised data store and website for residents. A wider roll out of equipment is also due to take place for larger scale testing. The project involves partners Western Power Distribution, Renesas Electronics Europe, National Energy Foundation and Hook Norton Low Carbon.