Trial shows network monitoring for UK grid

November 15, 2019 // By Nick Flaherty
42 Technology’s FuseOhm units have been installed into one of Western Power Distribution’s low voltage electricity substations as part of a six month field trial of the electricity grid
42 Technology and Western Power Distribution (WPD) have completed the first UK field trials for a low cost monitoring system that could allow all Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to monitor the performance of every low voltage electricity substation in the grid for the first time

The results from the six-month trial show the FuseOhm system can provide continuous real-time measurement and recording of critical parameters within substations in the grid, such as voltage, temperature and phase angle.

This follows a series of in-depth tests on pre-production prototypes carried out at The University of Strathclyde’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre in Glasgow (PNDC) where FuseOhm was shown to be robust and accurate over multiple tests, temperatures and environmental conditions. The system uses self-powered ‘plug and play’ adapters that slot into existing fuseways to provide a complete monitoring system for the grid that can either store data locally or transfer it via wired or wireless communications networks for remote monitoring applications.

“FuseOhm is an easy retrofit solution that could provide network operators with low-cost monitoring at scale, and much better visibility of where to deploy smart management systems or specific network reinforcements.  The FuseOhm units were installed, operating and collecting real-time data within one of our substations literally within minutes but the system could just as easily be included as an optional extra as part of all new installations at marginal extra cost,” said Ricky Duke, innovation and low carbon network engineer at WPD.

All DNOs are under mounting pressure to monitor all of their assets to help improve network stability and performance, and to more accurately identify stress points caused by increasing use of low-carbon technologies: such as electric vehicle charging, domestic heat pumps or consumers exporting back to the grid.  Although several monitoring systems are already available, DNOs report that they can take two hours or more to install and are usually too expensive for routine and widespread use.  As a result, current technologies tend only to be installed and used for short periods to help with fault diagnosis on a specific leg of the network when a customer reports a problem.

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