Apr 2013
Electricity Transmission
Smart Asset Management - Energy Harvesting Technology for Self-Powering Condition Monitoring Sensors
Apr 2013
National Grid Electricity System Operator
National Grid TO Innovation Team
Click here to send a question to the contact.
Innovation Funding Incentive
Asset Management
This project addresses the area of substation data collection systems required for operational and condition monitoring over short range communication links.

Self powered sensors are required for the deployment of plant and system monitoring functions at remote substation locations. These sensors could simply and efficiently collect data from difficult locations where the value of the data collected does not justify the provisioning of permanent data and power cabling.

The project supports other research and initiatives in energy storage and wireless substation communications to provide an easy to install and low maintenance data collection solution.

The project has the following aims and objectives:

  • The aim is to develop the power supply technology for energy harvesting for selfpowering condition monitoring sensors.

  • Investigate and develop energy harvesting devices based on capacitive / inductive coupling with the electromagnetic fields present in electricity transmission substations.

  • Intention is to produce a generic device capable of powering substation light current equipment such as active sensors that monitor the status, health and condition of electrical plant.

  • Most likely uses of such power is to enable short-distance wireless data transfer to enable monitoring of a wide range of parameters using safe, low-cost, unobtrusive devices.

Condition monitoring and asset management processes are increasingly capable of being automated through intelligent software. Consequently, it is increasingly necessary to obtain data from more diverse and larger numbers of sensors than has previously been the case. To power those sensors, traditionally DC power supply from substation battery systems has to be connected via cross-site-cables, which often involve significant engineering work, also introduce additional risk of electromagnetic interference.

Therefore, installation and maintenance of these sensors must involve the minimum of labour, and removing the need for cables and batteries is a key aspect of “fit and forget” functionality. It is likely that the eventual cost of the sensors (once integrated) will become so low that they become effectively disposable. Robust monitoring will be further bolstered if the sensors are cheap enough to install with a level of redundancy for extra security.