New Qinetiq line sensors test well at Hydro Quebec

Bird-on-wire design help keep grid monitors affordable 25 Март 2015, 15:59
"Old-line" electric transmission systems cannot meet today's urgent and compelling needs, Mark Federle, managing director of smart grid systems for Qinetiq North America, told us this week. In this new era of extreme weather and frequent outages, utilities want to deploy systems that can not only identify faults on the line but also offer real-time operational intelligence to facilitate rapid, reliable power restoration, he added.
The Waltham, Mass-based firm's latest product is grid-monitoring "bird-on-a-wire" sensors that cost-effectively keep an eye on LV and MV grids with a high degree of accuracy, Federle said.
LineWatch provides real-time, near revenue grade (+/-.5%) voltage and monitoring of current, power factor and other key power-line conditions, Qinetiq (pronounced "kinetic") said.
The firm is a unit of the British defense and security technology firm Qinetiq Group and collaborated with researchers at Hydro-Quebec in Canada to test the underground and overhead sensors. The testing used a proprietary software algorithm Hydro-Quebec had developed.
The utility is testing the combination on five feeders, with the pilot scheduled for completion in March.
Hydro-Quebec developed the algorithm to accurately isolate faults but the "had been testing it with other, much more expensive metering devices that would not support the economics/business case for a broad deployment," Federle said. "LineWatch provided Hydro-Quebec with the accurate operational data it needed at a price point that supported its business case."
Hydro-Quebec is piloting LineWatch on five feeders, "but they intend to deploy broadly very soon, assuming the beta testing continues to prove out the business case," Federle told us. "To date, test results have proven the efficacy of the algorithm to identify and locate non-persistent faults within a few pole spans of the fault location."
"The pilot test is scheduled to conclude in March. As early as this summer, we expect to see the start of a rollout to their entire network," he added.
The "bird-on-a wire" LineWatch sensors do not require a neutral connection and are installed using a standard industry "hot stick" – "more quickly and safely and cost-effectively than standard medium-voltage pole meters," he said.
LineWatch uses an IPV6 mesh design and accommodates other communications protocols via an Ethernet port or dedicated network interface card. Qinetiq and Hydro-Quebec are considering "marketing our LineWatch devices together with their software algorithm to other utilities through a formal partnership," Federle said.
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