EA Networks is a rural New Zealand electricity distribution network, with critical assets located in remote mountain valleys and areas with no cellular coverage. Working with ioSphere and Dynamic Ratings, they are the first electricity network in the world to monitor a transformer over the new Swarm satellite network.
Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites have the power to completely transform the management and control of the world’s electricity grids. Getting data back from anywhere on the planet has never been this easy or cost-effective.
Large grid operators like energy networks have billions of dollars invested in critical assets including lines and transformers. Connecting these assets digitally to a ‘smart grid’ system is a major priority for grid operators who need to squeeze maximum performance and reliability from their infrastructure.
However, the deployment of smart grid IoT (and SCADA) technology has been limited by cellular coverage. Huge numbers of the most critical grid assets lie outside of cellular coverage, so it has not previously been economically viable to digitally connect these assets to grid management systems.
Leveraging the flexibility of the ioSphere NEXEO gateway and a Dynamic Ratings B100 transformer monitor, EA Networks have been able to remotely monitor their substation transformer via the Swarm satellite network.
The brand-new Swarm LEO satellite network offers a truly economic solution for remote digital grid management. Swarm offers global coverage, with very low latency, at a data cost that makes the connection of any grid asset feasible.
“When we set out to create the best, universal industrial gateway for Swarm, electricity utility assets were high on our list of priority use cases,” says Stephen Irons, ioSphere’s head of firmware development. “Seeing our new Swarm gateway connected to a large substation transformer and seeing the asset performance data flowing smoothly over Swarm, a world first, was a really exciting milestone for the ioSphere team.”
The solution, deployed on an EA Networks substation near Ashburton, incorporates an ioSphere NEXEO gateway connected to a Dynamic Ratings B100 Electronic Temperature Monitor, which is connected to the transformer. The system returns the transformer’s oil temperature, load current, winding temperatures and surrounding ambient temperature to a web-based dashboard.
Having access to data from very remote transformers is hugely valuable for any utility that operates assets in remote locations. This data can be used to warn of any issues in plenty of time to initiate critical maintenance and can reduce the need to drive (or fly) to remote sites for inspections or condition assessment. The implementation of data-driven, condition-based maintenance can extend asset life and prevent grid outages.
By deploying the new, lower cost, satellite IoT solutions that ioSphere provides, utilities can improve the reliability of energy supply to their community while reducing maintenance costs and deferring expensive infrastructure upgrades.
“We really appreciate the help we had from Logic Wireless, Dynamic Ratings and EA Networks in pulling together this important industrial trial of the new Swarm satellite network’, says Donna Henderson, Head of Business Development at ioSphere, ‘The global adoption of Swarm in the utilities sector is likely to be enormous. It’s just great to have the first major proof of concept right here in Canterbury [New Zealand]”.
Learn more about the ioSphere NEXEO industrial IoT gateways:
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