UK Power Networks (UKPN) is rolling out Primary Outage Restoration Tool (PORT) software capable of reconnecting supplies faster following an Extra High Voltage (EHV) fault.
The distribution network operator (DNO) said that PORT is the first electricity automation scheme to use Adaptive Power Restoration System (APRS) to reroute electricity supplies via the 11,000-volt network after a fault on the EHV network.
PORT has already been deployed at around 210 primary substations in the South East, with plans to roll it out across 460 sites in the East of England.
John Duller, control systems and automation manager at UKPN, explained that two EHV circuits normally feed a primary electricity substation, however if one is out for maintenance and a fault occurs on the other circuit, "protection isolates the fault then PORT analyses the outage and alternative circuits".
"It then keeps restoring supplies until it can no longer do anything else. If we were working by hand on the control desk we would need to restore supplies in sequence."
The software, which was developed with GE Digital, builds on APRS, which UKPN said has already delivered 25% faster reconnections on first-generation template automation on the high voltage 11,000 and 6,600-volt system by extending benefits to the extra high voltage 33,000 and 132,000-volt networks.
PORT has no limit on the number of operations it can perform, UKPN said, but gave the example of one event where it carried out up to 23 remote control switching operations within three minutes to safely reconnect supplies quicker after faults on equipment such as power lines, cables and substations.
Three minutes is how long it takes to restore supplies in many cases, according to the DNO. This is significantly quicker than manually rerouting power supplies, which can take 30 minutes or more to complete.
Before restoring supplies, the PORT software completes safety checks into whether there have been people on site, recent switching and checking load. It traces network conditions at the time of the fault, using the latest information.
The system can also be used in planning mode for outage planning, with engineers able to simulate what would happen if power was lost at the site, then identify and address any issues with the contingency arrangements.