Utilit-e is empirical modelling software which helps to plan low-voltage electricity distribution networks by calculating the impact of distributed energy resources (PV, cogeneration, DERs etc). Created in 2018 by the start-up Odit-e, this promising solution has been certified by Tenerrdis and in December 2020 received the Solar Impulse Label.
NEW CHALLENGES IN ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS
Electricity has become an important, if not vital, commodity. The transition towards a low-carbon economy depends on it. But electrical systems must now address new challenges: the decentralisation of production and integration of renewable energy sources, along with the advent of ”smart grids” and the rise of new applications such as electric vehicles.
This issue concerns two categories of service:
- The smoothing of electricity production over time, so as to respond at all times to demand without having to activate costly, state-of-the-art production facilities, or to store excess production during periods of lower consumption, generally from renewable energy sources.
- The smoothing of production in space to avoid having to transport electricity on the grid to cover geographical mismatches between the place of production and place of consumption.
AN AID TO PLANNING LOW-VOLTAGE DISTRIBUTION NETWORKS
Finding the right balance for good performance of the electrical grid therefore requires a decision-making and planning aid able to predict the impact that distributed energy resources (DERs), such as photovoltaics, cogeneration or electric vehicles, will have on low-voltage networks.
This is where ”machine learning” software applications come in – such as the one developed in the Utilit-e project – which are able to continuously learn from the data provided by smart meters and thus refine their modelling so as to more accurately reflect reality.
By using mathematical machine learning methods and real data, the Utilit-e software allows Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to optimise very unbalanced low-voltage networks with a significant portion of renewable energy.
UTILIT-E IN PRACTICAL TERMS
The traditional methods still used today by DSOs are based on data (cable lengths and cross-sections, meter outlets and phase connection types) which can be sources of error.
As it is based on real data from smart meters, Utilit-e’s digital model of a low-voltage electricity network is therefore more accurate than traditional methods.
This offers practical advantages for DSOs:
- By offering simple, cost-effective solutions to rebalance the network (by simply changing the phase of one or more meters), spending on network reinforcement is greatly reduced, by up to €10k per kilometre of digital cable.
- Optimisation of photovoltaic capacity: production can thus be doubled without reinforcement.
- The investment payback period is therefore less than two years, and highly qualified staff can concentrate on added value for the customer.
AN INNOVATION WITH A STRING OF SUCCESSES
In March 2018, Utilit-e was certified by Tenerrdis, providing a form of recognition for the innovative solution and its potential, and strengthening the company’s reputation.
In 2018, Utilit-e was a winner of the French ADEME’s i-Nov competition within the Investments for the Future Programme (IFP). The competition aims to support innovative projects by start-ups and SMEs, and to encourage rapid emergence of leading companies in their areas – such as Odit-e – with potentially global reach.
In December 2020, Bertrand Piccard’s Solar Impulse Foundation awarded its Label to the Utilit-e software, including it on the list of 1,000 innovative solutions helping to protect the environment. International recognition!
IN THE WORDS OF THE PROJECT LEADER:
“Being chosen by the Solar Impulse Foundation as one of the 1,000 cost-effective environmental protection solutions, in addition to getting the Tenerrdis certification, is very encouraging for the future of Odit-e! In this context, the Utilit-e project provides a great opportunity to validate these solutions which we’ve been developing over a number of years, with a large-scale pilot on the Péronne Gazélec grid in the Somme.”
Tanguy Choné, Project Leader at Odit-e
Focus on Odit-e
Created in July 2017, Odit-e is a start-up specialising in the design of innovative software to support grid operators and owners as they address energy transition issues. Odit-e develops algorithms which radically transform the planning, operation and maintenance of low-voltage electricity distribution networks.
The company arose from a partnership of electricity distribution experts at Schneider Electric and laboratory researchers from Grenoble INP – two long-standing members of Tenerrdis who share an understanding and a common vision of the solutions to be implemented to optimise the environmental and financial costs of electrical infrastructure.