Open LV: putting power in the hands of communities

How local energy data can help drive the transition to low carbon communities

26 November 2019

As the trial phase of the OpenLV project draws to a close, partners and organisations participating in the trials came together last week to share learnings and reflect on the benefits gained from making local electricity data openly available within communities.

This pioneering project is vastly increasing knowledge about the capacity of local electricity networks, which not only benefits a whole host sectors – from the EV charging industry and renewables developers, to Network Operators – it helps make a case for improved access to energy data to help drive the transition to more low carbon communities.

Outcomes range from communities having a much greater awareness about their energy use – and therefore now being able to plan more effectively for installing renewable energy such as solar PV – to businesses developing systems to better manage the impact of increasing numbers of electric vehicles on the grid.

CSE has led the community engagement element of the project and supported seven communities to access their local electricity data for local benefit.

Data-driven innovation

The OpenLV web app, developed by CSE’s Andrew Gonnet, enabled community groups to access and display their local electricity usage data, configure settings to meet their particular needs and make use of the substation data.

Development of the web app has been ongoing since its launch earlier this year, with new and innovative integrations and functionality being added.

Bath and West Community Energy, for example, were able to incorporate data from their recent domestic PV and battery installations with the app in order to measure the impact their project is having on energy demand at the substation.

One particularly exciting new function provides an estimate of the total power generated from solar within a community, which can be used to help maximise generating capacity.

Marshfield Energy Group, who plan to develop a village-wide energy strategy, have been able to use LV (Low Voltage) substation data to start looking at potential uptake of low carbon technologies in the village.

Analysis of OpenLV data from substations in Marshfield gives some indicative figures to help with their strategy, including:

  • It could be possible to install a further 138 5kWp solar PV installations. 
  • If this was all installed, the yield would be around 830MWh electricity per year (including the already installed PV and Wind generation).
  • On average, this would provide for about 16% of the EV charging demand if EVs were used for all current journeys, or for 100% of travel by e-bike.
  • 106 EV charge points could be installed allowing ‘charging on demand’. A greater number of charge points could be installed with management of charging times and by spreading charging points carefully across feeders.

“It’s fascinating to see the different ways in which the OpenLV data has been used, and what it can show” says CSE's Bridget Newbery, who is managing the communities aspect of OpenLV.

In-depth reporting of the OpenLV trial activity will be completed by summer 2020. For the latest information visit openlv.net.


OpenLV is a ground-breaking project that has made local electricity data openly available for the first time ever, to benefit local communities and the wider energy industry. OpenLV is led by project partners Western Power Distribution and EA Technology. It is funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition. CSE is leading the community engagement, to support communities to access their local electricity data for local benefit.

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