As energy systems around the world change to meet the rapidly evolving demands of electrification, decarbonisation, reliability, and affordability, non-wires alternatives must be integrated with traditional infrastructure in a ‘best of both worlds’ approach. ‘Non-wires alternative’ is a catch-all term for an electricity network investment or project that uses non-traditional solutions to defer or replace the need for equipment upgrades, such as lines, cables or transformers, by reducing load at a substation or circuit level.
The Warkworth region, in Vector’s network, is set to grow significantly in the coming years. Access to the region will be significantly improved once new motorway developments are complete, and changes to the urban boundary are expected to open up significant new land for development. As a result, the number of customers Vector will connect is forecast to grow from 16,000 at present to 25,000 over the next 30 years.
Vector’s Chief Operating Officer Electricity Gas and Fibre, Peter Ryan, explains why Vector is inviting Registrations of Interest for providers of non-wires alternatives to play a key role in meeting this challenge.
What is the issue that needs to be solved?
We’re forecasting three constraints on the existing electricity infrastructure in the wider Warkworth region over the next 10 years. We’re considering non-wires alternatives to help manage the loading on, in the first instance, the sub-transmission cables and subsequently two zone substations, meaning we can defer the need to install new, higher-capacity assets.
The solutions we’re looking for would further flatten the demand profile in the wider Warkworth area, complementing our successful deployment of a large network battery in the area a few years ago.
How would this approach help customers?
Non-wires alternatives could include technology like batteries, solar, or digital platforms to make overall electricity demand more evenly spread throughout the day and night, like smart hot water, or EV smart charging.
These solutions ‘soak up’ and redistribute electricity demand throughout the day and night, meaning there is less need to replace or upgrade existing infrastructure as overall demand grows, while ensuring a seamless customer experience. Because these solutions enable the deferment of multi-million dollar investments, they ultimately provide more cost effective and flexible pathways that save customers money.
This is crucial in an era with rapid technology change, changing customer expectations and rapid Auckland development.
Why should providers register their interest?
We’re looking for proven solutions that can be deployed at scale, and could even be replicated in other parts of the Vector network in the future.
This is a high-profile opportunity to integrate a new network solution into the electricity network for New Zealand’s largest city, in an area of high growth and customer demand. As such, it represents a chance to truly shape the future market for new network solutions elsewhere in Auckland and around New Zealand, which will be crucial in our transition to reliable, clean and affordable energy systems. It’s also a chance to provide solutions that deliver a truly fantastic customer experience.
Vector has opened a public Registration of Interest to look for providers of non-wires alternatives in the Warkworth area. The registration period is open from 17 January to 23 February 2022. For more information, or to register your interest visit this page.