Trial to test technology with potential to predict and prevent power cuts

Technology capable of predicting and preventing power cuts is to be trialled across central southern England.

On 2 February, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), together with UK Power Networks (UKPN), announced that they will be testing Distribution Fault Anticipation (DFA) technology over the next 12 months. DFA systems work by using high levels of sampling rates to identify network faults before they happen and interrupt customers’ power supplies. SSEN and UKPN are working in partnership with Lord Consulting in New Zealand, Nortech Management and the Energy Innovation Centre, with Ofgem’s Network Innovation Alliance providing funding.

DFA-Plus devices monitor voltage and current on electricity circuits. They can detect the smallest of disturbances, which was noted as being something that traditional network protection systems may miss. Any abnormal waveforms are then matched with a catalogue of data, enabling the likely cause of the anomaly to be identified.

Each unit is around the size of a small games console, yet is able to continuously monitor several kilometres of network and the supply to thousands of customers. SSEN is installing 15 individual units on its southern network, which services 3.1mn people across areas including Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and West London. UKPN has installed 10 devices in sites in Suffolk, Kent and Bedfordshire and is planning to order a further five.