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Project DINO: Domestic Infrastructure and Network Optimisation

How can we make the most of local network infrastructure?

“Net Zero” is an ambitious target, and we believe households have a key part to play in helping our energy system cut carbon. As electric vehicle sales take off, more and more people want to charge their cars at home. Project DINO is all about facilitating this transition in a way that keeps consumer needs front and centre.

The problem is that increasing domestic demand for electricity causes issues for network operators.

Currently, networks are designed to deal with relatively low rates of energy consumption. Therefore if everyone on a street starts charging a car at the same time, the cables supplying electricity won’t be able to cope – and it will require a lot of metal to be put in the ground to reinforce the network and prevent power cuts. This would be economically and environmentally counterproductive, so a smart solution is needed to manage local networks to allow households to share available bandwidth.

Our solution: sharing available bandwidth

We are developing a two-way communications solution to allow network operators to communicate with certain household appliances. If the network can warn appliances when the local system is under stress, and the appliances can choose how and when they use electricity, then they can automatically dial down their energy consumption to relieve that stress.

For example, perhaps you are charging your car as quickly as possible even though you don’t need it until tomorrow. This technology will slow your car’s charging rate while network cables are overheating. We want you to have a full battery by morning, but also want to keep your lights on.†

However, if the network is fine, there is nothing to stop you charging as quickly as possible.

It’s not just about car charging. We also believe that heat pumps and domestic batteries have a part to play here, and so we will show how this could work too.

Project DINO is developing a first-of-its-kind prototype of such systems using real new-build housing estate monitoring data. We’re pretty excited about it.

† Without a system like this there is a risk that cables will overload and fuses blow. This wouldn’t be good for anybody.

Our project partners