Why smart wires should be part of your smart grid



Quick Take:  More and more utilities are realizing they don't necessarily have to worry about building new lines to get more power into a region. Instead, they may be able to simply increase the capacity of existing lines using dynamic line rating (DLR).


Now that we have instrumented substations and customer premises, utilities are starting to instrument their poles, towers and power lines. "The price point of sensors used to monitor transmission and distribution lines has been coming down for years," explained T&D World in a recent article. "The industry has almost reached the point where it would be economically possible to instrument entire transmission lines rather than just the critical spans." - By Jesse Berst


Today's need to push more power through existing infrastructure has given dynamic line rating (DLR) a boost. Fortunately, this need coincides with the proliferation of new, low-cost sensors for overhead lines. Now the behavior of those lines can be monitored in real time and even predicted in advance.


The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) believes DLR "has the potential to provide an additional 10% to 15% transmission capacity 95% of the time and fully 20% to 25% more... 85% of the time." Meanwhile, the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) reports that "DLR is becoming an integral part of transmission and distribution networks."


For instance, a system developed by Lindsey Manufacturing Co. and the Idaho National Labs (INL) can measure line sag, conductor temperature, conductor tilt and role, the distance to objects beneath the line and Aeolian vibration, an indication of wind blowing across the conductor.


Likewise, a collaboration between Alstom and Nexans offer safe increases in operational capacity up to 30%. Meanwhile, ABB has an integrated system that provides a real-time model of the power grid by calculating line impedance, shunt admittance and resistance, and combining that with weather data. For its part, Siemens has a system that monitors sag, ice loads, line loadings, thermal line ratings and reserve capacities.


Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.


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