Metering for Electrical Distribution Applications

Australia’s electricity distribution industry is subject to some challenging conditions:

  • Ageing infrastructure
  • Minimal condition and performance monitoring
  • The infrastructure is owned by various State Governments, each of which is withholding funds to replace or expand the infrastructure until auditable evidence can be provided of asset utilisation (metering and monitoring of temperatures and maximum demands)
  • Proliferation of highly distributed power generation sources (Photo Voltaic cells, co-generation, tri-generation, etc.) is causing havoc on the grid, e.g. voltages, power quality, etc.

To meet their contractual supply conditions, authorities need to monitor and control voltage profile, sags/swells, harmonics, neutral currents, etc., as well as plan for equipment replacements and capacity upgrades. Many of these problems are relatively recent and the situation is generally deteriorating quite rapidly. Products designed to meet other network monitoring needs are not generally appropriate for these new issues. A new range of products needs to be developed quickly, and then deployed easily on a large scale. These products also need high durability and must be networkable to enable the data they generate to be transferred into data analysis systems. The industry pioneers decided to focus initially on the asset management aspect of their pad mount subs by replacing their old electromechanical MDIs with an electronic version. They chose initially to measure temperatures (enclosure ambient and transformer housing) as well as the current maximum demands on the transformers and the outgoing LV circuits.

Solution

CET in collaboration with CETA and a major local solution supplier to the distribution industry designed an economical, single device electronic MDI, which was delivered in approximately 9 months from initial concept discussions. CETA is currently working on further products aimed specifically at addressing some of the other problems the distribution networks face, particularly voltage profiles and quality aspects.