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US smart grid company Tollgrade revealed this week that it is involved in a number of Ofgem-funded projects in the UK to monitor network capacity and overhead line vibration as part of a push towards grid modernisation. 

Tollgrade, which makes fault detection hardware and predictive analytics software, is working with distribution network operator (DNO) for the Midlands, South Wales and the South West Western Power Distribution.

The DNO plans to deploy Tollgrade LightHouse Sensors to monitor network capacity and renewables to avoid building expensive new infrastructure and reduce the cost passed onto UK consumers, the company confirmed in a statement.

Overhead line safety

Tollgrade is also working with Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD), which delivers electricity to over 3.7 million customers across its distribution regions in northern Scotland and central southern England.

As part of a GBP710,000 project under the UK energy regulator Ofgem‘s Innovation Funding Incentive, Tollgrade will supply sensors to monitor medium voltage overhead lines for early visibility and detection of accidental collisions with overhead lines.

SSEPD covers many rural locations in its operating region, particularly in Scotland, where overhead electricity lines cross forest roads, access ways, farm roads, footpaths and rivers that are difficult to monitor in real-time.

According to the an official statement, the project works “on the assumption that it is possible to discriminate cable impact between incidents where the circuit needs to be de-energised, and remain so until checked, and those incidents where no action is required.

“The intention is to have a device created, installed and tested to prove that the assumption is correct. If it can be shown that it is possible to discriminate between inadvertent cable strikes by members of the public and natural hazards, then a further phase of the project may be initiated to develop prototypes of such devices for further testing.”

Community energy systems

Tollgrade is also working with Community Energy Scotland, which will assist the procurement and operation of sensors by community-owned generators enabling participants to see the power flows within their local networks; a vital element in developing local energy systems.

The company also confirmed that DNOs are Predictive Grid Analytics software to drive these grid projects.