Slashing the cost of electricity substation monitoring

November 28, 2016 // By Julien Happich
42 Technology has been awarded an Innovate UK grant to help accelerate the commercial development of a novel low cost system for use in remote monitoring of the UK’s network of over 400,000 electricity distribution substations.

The company has patented and prototyped a metrology sensor solution dubbed "Triple Ohm" that can increase the dynamic range, accuracy, frequency bandwidth while reducing the BOM cost by ten compared to competing solutions.

"The system is being specifically designed with a target price of around £100 per installation whereas today’s alternative solutions are more than 10 times as expensive, making them too costly for widespread use,” said Jeremy Carey, managing director of 42 Technology.

The easy-to-install and compact hardware reduces cost for both voltage and current sensing, monitoring six or more Rogowski coils. The Triple Ohm solution has a high rejection of external magnetic fields and can detect small and fast variations in the load current and voltage (signature detection). It has a high level surge immunity with an intrinsically high insulation voltage up to 15kV. Software-enabled features are numerous, giving out the RMS voltage and current of each phase, the active and reactive power for each phase as well as the apparent, fundamental and harmonic power for each phase. The unit also calculate the total power factor, four-quadrant reactive power and detailed voltage/current harmonic content.

The new system will potentially allow distribution network operating companies (known as DNOs) to start accurately monitoring the performance of every substation within their part of the network so they can make more informed infrastructure investments and minimize the risk of costly asset failures.
The phase one grant will see 42 Technology working with the UK’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) in Glasgow to develop the business case for the new system.