Feb 2013
Electricity Distribution
Power Line Carrier Trial Installation and Assessment
Feb 2013
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks
SSEN Future Networks Team
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Innovation Funding Incentive
Comms & IT
Smart metering has been mandated by the UK government for all domestic and SME electricity and gas consumers. The installation of smart metering system infrastructure will commence in 2014 with completion likely by 2019. Some of the functionality available within the proposed smart metering system will be required to support the operation of future smart grids (intelligent networks).

At present the communications technology to support the UK smart metering system is undecided and Power Line Carrier (PLC) has been identified as an option for the last mile which could benefit the proposed DCC and network operators.

In this project SSEPD undertook trials to demonstrate the operation of PLC technology on Low Voltage (LV) distribution networks in order to support a last mile communications system that could support smart metering and the future operation of smart grids.

PLC as a concept has been used for many years, though it has never been trialled on a UK electricity network to demonstrate its ability to support smart metering applications.

There are several companies boasting technology that is able to support smart metering / grid applications, but no field testing has been carried out in the UK, though trials of similar systems have been undertaken in other countries.

This project trialled both narrowband and broadband PLC technologies on a typical suburban distribution network, consisting of underground cables and overhead line sections.

The implementation of PLC to support smart metering is beyond the control of SSEPD, however findings from these trials will inform the electricity industry regarding the suitability of systems trialled.