Northern Powergrid starts energy efficiency trial

Using real-time, data-led processes to safely adjust the voltage delivered to homes and businesses in the trial area, Northern Powergrid will optimise the efficiency of the network, delivering significant carbon and cost savings to the local community.

The Boston Spa Energy Efficiency Trial (BEET) kicked off in January and is taking place in Boston Spa, Wetherby and the surrounding areas, with Northern Powergrid harnessing data from local smart meters and running it through its specially developed BEET-Box to safely optimise the network voltage for around 15,000 homes and businesses in the trial area.

The BEET-Box uses smart meter data to safely turn voltage up or down to the level that appliances need to work most efficiently. This could save individual homes and businesses taking part in the trial an average £28 on their annual energy bills and cut their carbon footprint by 20kg per year. The resulting energy savings could also help to unlock capacity for low carbon technologies such as electric vehicle chargers and solar panels.

Mark Callum, Smart Grid Development Manager at Northern Powergrid said:

We’re excited for this trial to go live in Boston Spa and Wetherby as BEET is a fantastic example of how we’re innovating today to deliver future benefits for our customers. We are trialling technology that can help us increase the efficiency of our network for our customers, whilst reducing their carbon footprint and overall energy consumption. It could also bring us one step closer to decarbonising the region, by enabling the introduction of more low carbon technologies, like electric vehicles and solar panels, onto the grid, and deliver wider benefits as we share our findings with other network operators so it can be scaled up nationwide.

In the past, to ensure compliance with voltage regulations, households have typically received a higher voltage than most domestic appliances require to work effectively.
But now, thanks to an idea from local resident and retired engineer Keith Jackson and insights from smart meters that show energy consumption in near real-time, engineers can deliver the voltage that customers really need.

Keith Jackson said:

I approached Northern Powergrid with an idea that would use real-time data from smart meters to optimise network voltage levels and deliver CO2 and cost savings for the local community. Everyone in the trial area will benefit without having to do a thing. The BEET project is a great example of how innovative thinking can positively impact both local citizens, and our net zero goals.

If the trial is successful, Northern Powergrid plans to roll the concept out across the majority of its network by 2033. If scaled up nationally, the network operator estimates that BEET could save 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 from the UK’s annual carbon footprint and help cut energy consumers bills by up to £770 million.