New to the market – low cost LV all-system monitoring

15 January 2020



42 Technology has successfully completed a six month trial of what it says is a ‘low-cost breakthrough’ for monitoring low voltage substations.


Technology innovation and product development consultancy 42 Technology, together with Western Power Distribution (WPD), the distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West England and South Wales, have announced the successful completion of their first UK field trials for FuseOhm, a technology that is described as a breakthrough in low-cost monitoring. It could, for the first time, allow all distribution network operators (DNOs) to routinely monitor the performance of every low voltage electricity substation on their networks. FuseOhm is a new low cost substation monitoring system and has been developed from first principles, with support from Innovate UK, to provide real-time remote monitoring of key substation parameters.

The results from the six-month trial have fully endorsed all of 42 Technology’s previous claims that the device can provide continuous real-time measurement and recording of critical parameters within substations – such as voltage, temperature and phase angle – as well as being fast and easy to install.

“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.

Improving performance

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.

FuseOhm has been specifically designed to address this and to provide DNOs with a true low-cost approach that could be rolled out to every substation. Widespread network monitoring would also help DNOs to more cost-effectively plan where and when to upgrade, replace or add in new capacity.

Capabilities

FuseOhm uses self-powered ‘plug and play’ adapters that slot into existing fuseways to provide a monitoring system that can either store data locally or transfer it via wired or wireless communications networks for remote monitoring applications.

These latest trial results follow on from 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 the device was shown to be robust and accurate over multiple tests, temperatures and environmental conditions. The field trial results have reaffirmed that there is considerable market interest in a low-cost, universal monitoring solution and 42 Technology is now working with an established equipment and communications provider to bring FuseOhm to market.

Figure 1. 42 Technology’s FuseOhm units have been installed in one of Western Power Distribution’s low voltage electricity substations as part of a six month field trial for the new low cost network monitoring system
Figure 2. FuseOhm uses self-powered ‘plug and play’ adapters that can be fully installed, operating and collecting real-time data in a few minutes
Figure 3. The display unit shows, from left to right, the actual current level for each of three fuseways, the peak current achieved within a pre- determined time period, as well as instantaneous phase voltage and temperature. The data can then be stored locally or transferred via a wired or wireless communications network for remote monitoring applications
Figure 4. 42 Technology has designed a special installation tool to make it faster and easier for network engineers to install the units when upgrading existing fuseways


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