Volue’s Innovative Solution to Ease the Burden of Increasing Grid Connection Requests Amid the Electrification of Society

Ståle Nilsen, Business Manager, Power Grid, Volue, writes the latest of our Power Grid series, where he delves into Volue’s Automated Grid Connection solution.

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Our previous story, ‘Pioneering the Future: Volue's Game-Changing SaaS Grid Calculation Capabilities', outlines a vision of transformation through data-driven operations and automation. It also introduced Volue’s innovative SaaS-based grid calculation support, a game-changer that empowers users with seamless access and drives efficiency in grid calculations. It’s a story of empowerment and inclusivity, where every stakeholder, equipped with the right tools, can contribute to the grid’s evolution. 

Ståle Nilsen, Business Manager, Power Grid, Volue, writes the latest of our Power Grid series, where he delves into Volue’s Automated Grid Connection solution.  

Volue’s Innovative Solution to Ease the Burden of Increasing Grid Connection Requests Amid the Electrification of Society 

Our previous article 'From Watts to Weather' highlighted the issues faced by electric utilities due to the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs), heat-pumps, and photovoltaic (PV) systems, leading to a new era of uncertainty and transformative challenges.  

In our latest piece in the Power Grid series, we’re focusing on Volue’s innovative SaaS solution ‘Automated Grid Connection’, which is currently under development. The solution streamlines the process of assessing grid feasibility, enabling customer dialogue, and processing payments. It empowers users with seamless access to critical data and the capabilities to drive business processes forward. 

Enhancing Grid Connection Processes through Automation 

 Most grid connection requests pertain to the low voltage grid, which typically serves residential households and small-scale industries.  

While these connections are generally straightforward and can be processed swiftly and efficiently, the growing number of prosumers and the surge in solar production within the low voltage grid, coupled with the increased electrification of heating and transportation systems, have led to local bottlenecks. These bottlenecks need enhancements to the local grid, potentially resulting in costly handling processes and extended approval times. 

One of the challenges faced by grid companies relates to managing customer communication. In the traditional grid connection process, customers primarily interact with electricians, who in turn liaise with the grid companies. This indirect communication can lead to misinformation reaching the end customer, potentially reducing customer satisfaction due to a lack of understanding of any issues that may arise.  

Volue’s Automated Grid Connection Portfolio seeks to address these Challenges 

 By automating the calculation of short circuit currents, evaluating transformer and cable paths, and calculating the highest and lowest voltage in the low voltage circuits, a considerable proportion of grid connection requests can be fully automated. Volue estimates that 20-40% of all requests can be fully automated, and the rest of the requests can be handled more effectively due to pre-calculation of short-circuit and load-flow in the circuit. The best and most cost-effective cable-path will be calculated for new grid connections and the cost for excavating and materials will be estimated. 

Requests that fail the automation process can be expedited more quickly due to pre-calculated values for all the above scenarios, making manual handling easier and less time-consuming.  

A Dedicated UX-Optimised Customer Portal 

 In addition to automated calculation and evaluation, Volue is developing a new portal for end customers. This portal allows customers to log in directly to the grid company’s webpage and send requests. Our white-label solution will appear as the grid company's own portal. 

Through SaaS capabilities Volue automates responses to the customer for straightforward requests and offers a payment portal for customers to pay the fee set by the grid company. The fee can be calculated based on actual costs using a product mix or set as a standard fee.  

Customers can make payments using a card through a standard online payment process. If a request falls outside of the automation presets, it will be sent to the case handler, and the customer will be notified of the status in the manual process. Once the manual process is complete, the calculated fee can be invoiced or directly paid by the customer. 

When communicating with end customers, we assume that customers may not have detailed knowledge of technical terms such as kwh, ampere, voltages, cable dimensions, and so forth. We have analysed how to obtain the bare minimum of information from the end customer and explain more technical terms in a comprehensive way so that they can provide the essential information.  

Once a request has been approved and paid, it will be sent to our electrician portal where the electrician chosen by the customer can retrieve it and report it as finished. 

Our total solution is a SaaS setup with comprehensive API support, enabling integration with grid company-specific case handling solutions and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions. 

Automating Grid Connection Management