Jun 2019
Electricity Distribution
Enabling Monitoring and Control of Underground Assets
Jun 2019
Jun 2021
SP Energy Networks, SP Distribution and SP Manweb
Ian MacPherson
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Network Innovation Allowance
ED - Network improvements and system operability, ED - New technologies and commercial evolution, ED - Safety and health and environment
Asset Management, Comms & IT, Control Systems, Cyber Security, LV & 11kV Networks, Network Automation, Network Monitoring and Substation Monitoring
Linkboxes and basement sub-stations are located upto 2 metres+ underground in urban environments with limited mobile network coverage areas with limited availability of power sources.

The project enables  the ability for the DNO/DSO to gain visibility of these Assets through wireless connectivity in-order to remotely monitor, analyse, report, and configure these Assets remotely which in turn removes the need for personnel to visit the site to investigate and rectify faults under normal operational conditions.

The key challenge is to identify a wireless solution which can in a cost-effective manner penetrate these underground facilities and enable the DNO/DSO to provide the same service capabilities currently available for ground-mounted sub-stations and link boxes.
This project will aim to investigate the feasibility of utilising the Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) wireless technology to achieve wireless coverage underground and in-building where other technologies can’t achieve this technically or economically.
The Proof of Concept (PoC) investigation will install monitoring devices on a limited range of linkboxes and sub-stations to establish whether the communication solution can provide a cost effective technical solution.

The key business benefits, for basement substation is gaining visibility and control of assets which are typically only accessible Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and below are some additional DNO financial benefits for Linkboxes.

- Manual inspection of 33% of the 30000 Linkboxes a year assuming 16 per day per person and £400 a day equates to £250k per year. If manual inspection is reduced to once every six years then the average saving per year is £125k. If the Linkboxes increase to 100,000 then the saving is £417k per year

- 500 units out of 30,000 are replaced each year at a cost of £3.3 million (£6.6k per Linkbox)  and if Proactive monitoring can reduce this by 5% then this would save on average £165k a year. If the Linkboxes grow to 100,000 then the per year saving would be £550k a year.