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UKPN hails UK first as DNV Smart Cable Guards installed on network

This is the first time the Smart Cable Guards - which are designed to act as a stethoscope for the grid - have been used in the UK. Image: UKPN.

This is the first time the Smart Cable Guards - which are designed to act as a stethoscope for the grid - have been used in the UK. Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks (UKPN) engineers have fitted DNV’s early warning system Smart Cable Guards at two sites, in a UK first.

Designed to detect and fix potential power cuts before they happen, the technology works like a stethoscope, tracking the network’s ‘pulse’ UKPN said.

Smart Cable Guards are box-like devices that fit onto underground power cables and continuously monitor them for tiny levels of electrical distortion. They are so sensitive that they can detect electrical disturbances lower than the power of a mobile phone.

When they detect a disturbance, the technology alerts engineers of where on the cable a potential problem could occur within a few metres. Engineers can then replace the cabling before there is a power cut.

Already one fault has been successfully identified, and the section of cabling replaced by engineers. As well as the installations in New Addington and East Grinstead, a further 18 more locations across Kent, Sussex, Surrey and London are taking part in the trial.

As electricity demand continues to grow in the coming years, reliability of the grid is key said Lucy Craig, director of growth, innovation and digital at DNV.

“Technology, such as Smart Cable Guards, allows grid operators to digitally monitor their systems and receive real-time information to help them detect and avoid power failures. We’re proud to support UK Power Networks to increase reliability for its customers.”

The £435,000 innovation trial follows results from UKPN and Scottish Power Energy Network’s innovative fault-finding Radiometric Arc Fault Location (RAFL2) trial. This includes installing devices around Canterbury, as well as near Glasgow and Edinburgh.

UKPN is also launching the £1.8 million MILES system later this year, at two sites near Canterbury and four around Crawley. This will use sensors fitted to overhead cables to detect electrical radio wave disturbances around specific areas of the network. Up to 30 sensors will be tested over six months starting in Autumn.

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UKPN said: “Our most fundamental purpose is ensuring safe and reliable power supplies for our customers. With these new trials we’re continuing to invest, improve our performance and put our customers first.”

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