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UKPN launches £6.4m technology blueprint to improve reliability

Image: UKPN.

Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks (UKPN) has launched a £6.4 million blueprint for using technologies to deliver reliable power.

This includes developing a portfolio of 11 projects that will explore the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), new technologies and new equipment for operational engineers.

It’s hoped that these trials will help the DNO to either predict power cuts before they happen, or enable them to fix them faster by ensuring engineers have as much information as possible. Already it has halved the number of power cuts experienced between 2011 and 2019, with supplies now 99.9% reliable it stated.

The projects will include the installation of 16 ‘fault anticipation’ devices, capable of detecting electrical disturbances in overhead lines and underground cables in real time at seven electricity substations in Suffolk, Sussex Kent and London.

New software built together with the British Geological Survey and the Met Office will also be trialed. This measures a number of factors including rainfall, cable density and soil characteristics to create a ‘heat map’, which UKPN could use to predict where faults could arise a few days in the future.

‘Fault passage indicators’ will be tested, which can automatically communicate to engineers where an electrical circuit might be damaged or obstructed. This would let engineers identify where the damage is 80% faster than having to rely on physically walking lines.

Finally, a new smart data algorithm in the MILES project will be tested. Software will utilise a series of sensors to detect fault locations within a few metres, with the trial set to run until 2023.

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UKPN, said that while it was critical to develop tools for net zero, the company was also determined to “deliver benefits for our customers here and now".

“People rightly expect us to lead the way in reliability, safety and customer service at the lowest possible cost, and that’s just what we’re aiming to do with these projects.”


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