Downed powerlines are a major industry safety issue. Downed conductors and their subsequent touch and step potential field affect a large radius, and current industry-standard technology is not always capable of alerting the control room when the line is down and connected to the load side – until now.
The safety issue of detecting and locating High Impedance Faults (HIFs) is a consistent industry problem due to the difficulty in detecting the small magnitudes of fault current.
HIFs become more dangerous when the lines fall onto roads and unaware civilians may touch and sustain significant injuries. Even standing near fallen lines can be fatal due to the step potential points maintaining dangerous levels of electric current radiating outwards from the powerline.
Currently, HIFs remain a significant hazard until found and reported. They are also costly both financially and reputationally. In an Australian first, PowerPilot has been created with these safety and hazard concerns in mind.
Created by Electronet Technologies in New Zealand, PowerPilot is a small, self-contained device that attaches to the load side of the transformer, and can include Class 1 metering, identifying a range of fault conditions of lines and helping to prioritise responses.
PowerPilot’s ConductorDown fault sensing can detect if a live HV conductor is down when it falls to the ground while still connected at the load side. With PowerPilot, companies can measure the voltages and phase angles of three-phase transformers and reliably detect an open circuit on one of the upstream high voltage conductors.
For instance, a load-side conductor could be down where there is insufficient earth fault current to operate a protective device. The probable location of the fault can be inferred by PowerPilot with faults grouped together to assist in their detection and prioritisation.
The “Last Gasp” loss-of-power report informs a control room immediately of a fault. This can mean a crew responds to hazardous situations such as a “conductor down” faster and reduces the time anyone is exposed to danger.
Additionally, whenever power is lost, PowerPilot uses a small amount of stored energy to report the outage meaning maintenance crews can be dispatched sooner.
PowerPilot’s new technology allows for near real time data on LV network performance and power flows, reliable and cost-effective but low capacity two-way communication systems, and the ability to manage load at multiple levels such as Feeder and Zone Sub.
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