Smart Grid Sensors Reduce Power Outages and Lower Costs

Smart Grid Sensors Reduce Power Outages and Lower Costs

Pippa Boothman
08. Apr 2020 | 4 min read

Smart Grid Sensors Reduce Power Outages and Lower Costs

The last thing a power company wants is a forced outage caused by malfunctioning equipment. An outage translates to higher cost of repairs and replacements, in addition to unhappy customers and lost revenue. Power companies have the potential to lose an average of $1.26 M in revenue over a 7-day period if a 500MW generator goes down due to a forced outage.

Power companies are turning to next-generation devices like smart grid sensors to drive change. With the combination of sensor data and robust analytics, power companies can support smart grid solutions with insights that prevent outages and improve the bottom line.

What’s driving the smart grid?

The power industry is struggling to keep aging assets online. Power cycles are increasing at the same time the number of trained operators available for specialized maintenance and repairs are decreasing.

Even though most power companies don’t operate in a market with multiple competitors, they’re under pressure to demonstrate operational savings, particularly in environments where tariffs are adjusted at the end of regulatory period to account for industry cost performance. The more efficiently a power company operates, the more it benefits.

 

The status quo is costly, inadequate and potentially dangerous

 

Critical assets in the power industry are diverse. They include generators, generator circuit breakers (GCBs), line disconnect switches, step-up and step-down transformers, segregated and non-segregated bus ducts, potential transformer cabinets, medium voltage switchgears, and motors, among others. These systems are subject to excessive loads, normal wear and tear, and challenging environmental conditions which can cause thermal or electrical breakdown.

If left unmonitored, power systems overheat, stop functioning and may even cause fires.

Power companies typically rely on employees to perform manual equipment checks. At best, manual tests are performed only periodically. At worst, utilities need to shut down systems to perform those tests. Inspectors can see obvious problems such as physical damage, frayed connectors, degraded insulation, moisture, and evidence of overheated components. But they often don’t have full line-of-sight and may make mistakes and omissions.

At times, power companies take thermal images of equipment to understand conditions. However, trained technicians and specialized equipment are required, which makes the checks expensive and time consuming.

With thousands of assets to monitor and maintain, operators prioritize high voltage environments. But, as voltage lowers and gets closer to end consumers, they typically lose oversight of operational conditions. That means that if there’s an outage in a low voltage environment, they may spend hours tracking down the cause of outage, at high cost.

We believe there’s a better way.

Small but mighty, smart grid sensors protect power companies

To support the smart grid, power companies can monitor critical assets at scale with smart grid sensors that track temperature, water leakage, security, and wear and tear on equipment.
Lightweight sensors stick on assets in difficult-to-reach places with small surface areas, proving direct connections to critical measurement points. They don’t require line-of-sight or manual intervention to gather measurements. Easy to install, they require no maintenance or yearly calibration.

Sensor data for decision making

Once smart grid sensors acquire and aggregate temperature and other data, that data can be brought into a digital space for full visibility. Analytics systems turn data points into insights that help operators make informed decisions.

For example, when sensors detect a temperature change on a critical asset, smart grid operators may receive an automated alert and confirm an unexpected spike in their dashboard. They can then react quickly to rebalance or replace an overheating asset before any damage is done.

Instead of employees descending under the ground to perform tasks or shut down systems, smart grid companies use data like this to identify issues before they cause problems. As a result, systems remain online and running smoothly.

Smart grid experimentation

With simple, scalable sensors, power companies have the freedom to experiment with smart grid applications without a massive up-front investment. Small and lightweight, wireless mini-sensors allow you to place sensors in high density and easily move them to check conditions and compare data in multiple locations so you can continually adapt an automated monitoring and analytics solution. You can start using data as part of daily operations and gain a return on your investment more rapidly.

Smart grid sensors can provide back-up data to confirm suspicions you already have. More exciting is the potential for sensors to tell you things you never would have known.

We’re here to help you create a smart grid sensing solution that saves you time and money. See how smart grid sensors can change the way you manage critical power assets. Contact us for a demonstration and smart grid pilot kit.

Disruptive Technologies Research AS

Pippa Boothman

Pippa Boothman

Pippa has more than 15 years of global sales and marketing experience in technology and apparel. Her expertise is growing brands and taking them to market. She was previously VP Marketing & Communications at Airthings.

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