Energy Matters Blog: kVA Capacity

Monitor kVA capacity to make critical savings

What is kVA and its charges?

Your local Distribution Network Operator (DNO) determines the power required by each business in your local area, including yours. The power that’s allocated is known as kVA (kilo-volt-amperes). Each business is allocated its volume of kVA, which is considered a kVA threshold. Businesses will pay for this on their regular monthly bill. It’s often referred to as a “kVA capacity charge” or, “capacity charge” and applies to all customers with Half-Hourly meters.

Irrespective of whether or not a business uses their full capacity, a kVA charge is still payable. But mismanaging your kVA by not using it efficiently, or by exceeding your kVA capacity could have serious, unintended consequences on the environment and your energy bill.

What happens if you don’t use your full kVA?

If you’ve reserved more kVA than you require from the network, you may be unknowingly jeopardising businesses close by who require more power. Those businesses might then exceed their kVA allowance by drawing power from another business’ threshold, starting a vicious cycle and putting an overload on the network.

More worryingly, drawing capacity that goes unused from the grid has serious environmental consequences. As much as 54% of UK electricity supplied by the network is wasted, resulting in unnecessary consumption of natural resources, increasing the carbon footprint and releasing greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere.

What happens if you exceed your kVA?

Simply put, it can get quite serious. Drawing an excess kVA above your agreed threshold means you may be taking power allocated to other businesses. If all businesses in the area repeated the same process, it could potentially cause major damage to network infrastructure, with repair costs running into tens of thousands of pounds.

As of 2018, Ofgem introduced a new measure (DCP161) to discourage businesses from exceeding kVA. This allows the Distribution Network Operator to apply excess capacity charges ranging from 47% to 132% above your usual cost. To avoid penalty charges from excess kVA, as well as overpayment on unused kVA, businesses would benefit by understanding and analysing their kVA demand to determine whether they have the correct level of kVA allocated to their site.

How can you understand your kVA?

The optimal kVA level is just above your maximum demand. All businesses should be analysing kVA usage to ensure it’s set at the right amount, but that’s easier said than done. Until now. This is where ALPHA. Lite can help.

After a simple two-minute sign-up, ALPHA. Lite will instantly analyse the last 14 months of your kVA data, down to 30-minute blocks. The easy-to-use user interface shows you how close you were to reaching your capacity, allowing you to take preventative measures to stop your business from paying for kVA capacity you don’t use.

Figure 1: This subscriber overpays for kVA capacity. In 14 months, the highest capacity used was 210 kVA, but this subscriber pays for 275 kVA. ALPHA. Lite’s analysis led to this customer understanding their consumption and improving their efficiency.

 

Figure 2: This subscriber does not have enough kVA capacity. They have exceeded capacity and been charged £328.49 in excess kVA fees. ALPHA. Lite has given the subscriber an alert to notify them to take action.

 

Figure 3: This subscriber has the correct kVA capacity. ALPHA. Lite is able to show their kVA down to 30-minute increments.

 

ALPHA. Lite is the only platform that allows you to instantly assess your capacity using 14 months of your historic data, with no intrusive hardware required. Currently, no other platform is able to provide this level of information. This will help you ensure there’s minimal wastage in your operations going forward.

This technology is exclusive to ALPHA. Lite and unavailable elsewhere in the energy industry. ALPHA. Lite’s goal is to make businesses more efficient, to stop energy wastage and work towards net zero carbon.

That’s why we’ve set subscription at a minimal fee of £15 a month – less than a few cups of coffee –and a lot less than the thousands you could potentially spend on misusing kVA. There are no contract ties either. You can sign-up for as long as you like and ensure your business saves on energy wastage. Together with ALPHA. Lite, we can work towards carbon neutrality.

Visit here to find out more and sign up

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