Complementary Solutions for Distribution Grid Challenges
November 17th, 2022
The aging distribution grid is a complex system, faced with complex challenges. Extreme weather events and the electrification of everything have, in recent years, stepped up the urgency to effectively overcome these challenges.
Complementary Solutions Have Better Results
The reality is, when it comes to addressing the grid’s reliability, resilience, and energy efficiency challenges, there is no “silver bullet” or one-stop shopping for technology solutions. Diverse grid modernization needs like the ones facing utilities today are best met when complementary technologies are leveraged to improve results without negatively impacting cost efficiency.
One example of this is the use of reclosers with intelligent line sensors.
This table shows the capabilities of reclosers and line sensors. Looking at this table, it’s also easy to see that there are areas of overlap, as well as areas where combining the two technologies can allow for a more holistic approach to grid edge control.
In addition to the recloser capabilities outlined in the table above, they can break current to momentarily clear faults and act as sectionalizers in coordinated restoration schemes.
How to Use Line Sensors With Reclosers
Here are four examples scenarios that show the possibilities of utilizing the benefits of reclosers with line sensors:
- Feeder with one non-communicating recloser
- Feeder with one communicating recloser
- Feeder with one communicating and two non-communicating reclosers
- Feeder with three communicating reclosers
In each of these scenarios, line sensors allow for better system visibility – whether that be at the location of a non-communicating closer or at additional system locations.
Another Benefit of Line Sensors
Typically, line sensors do not capture voltage information, while reclosers do.
However, intelligent line sensors (such as the Sentient Energy MM3) have the ability to capture waveform anomalies without triggering an outage, as is the case with reclosers. This improves productivity for utilities – identify, even predict, outages before they occur.
Using analytics like this, anomaly trends can be classified and tracked, allowing utilities to identify feeder segments with an outage risk. To mitigate unplanned interruptions, high-risk segment inspections can be initiated.
This means power delivery is more reliable for customers – additionally, it prevents further unnecessary stress on other assets that are expensive or difficult to repair or replace. After all, planned maintenance is always more economical than immediate crew outage response.
Reclosers may be the most powerful tool to improve feeder reliability. However, this is a solution that requires a hefty investment, and may not be necessary for all feeders.
In most scenarios, coupling the use of reclosers with line sensors results in an effective and efficient balance of capabilities and cost, with the following benefits:
- From faster deployment time
- Additional visibility
- Highly targeted location information
- Lower cost per location
Plus, this solution offers future growth in the form of a path to predictive analysis and monitoring.