Horizon pilots network fault detection system
The fault detection isolation and restoration system (FDIR) was developed by Christchurch-based firm Quasar, which supplies and integrates Survalent Technology smart grid solutions.
Horizon asset manager Derek Caudwell says implementing the technology will reduce the impact of faults on customers. It will also position the company for possible regulatory changes around network performance.
“The regulator’s indicated in the next period that quality and incentive schemes are likely to come to the fore so it’s one of a number of things we’re doing to be in a position to respond to that, improve our customer responsiveness and also reliability of the network.”
Quasar project engineer Eric Tjiptadjaja says FDIR will be able to locate and isolate a fault immediately, and then either advise restoration steps to the operator or implement the restoration automatically.
It follows the same logic as an operator but can take in more information at once and process it more quickly, Caudwell says.
Horizon’s network spans around 8,400 square-kilometres and provides electricity to more than 24,000 consumers in the eastern Bay of Plenty.
Caudwell says the firm recently ran a three-year reliability programme and installed more than 50 automated switches on parts of the network were performance historically has been poor.
Once FDIR is fully implemented it will communicate with parts of the network that have the automated switches installed and gather information from there.
Caudwell says once the system has isolated a fault, it will look at other areas to determine whether they are faulted or not and restore on that basis.
It can also read how recently other devices have communicated, how reliable the information coming in from the field is, and quickly calculate load flows to find the optimal part of the network to restore from.
“You’ve still got to respond to the actual fault,” Caudwell says, “but it means those areas that can be restored quickly are, so less people are affected by the outage.”
The system is currently being tested on about 10 per cent of the network in a monitoring capacity. The pilot began in April and will likely run for 12 months, Caudwell says.
“When it sees a fault it will go through its routine and work how it would have responded to that particular fault, but it won’t actually undertake any switching at this stage,” he says. “We’re still gaining operational experience with the system.”
The FDIR is supported by Survalent Technology's open-architecture system, which includes several of the firm's open system applications.
He would not say how much has been spent on implementing the new system as it’s still in the pilot stage.
Caudwell says technology take-up by distributors has been on the slow side compared with other industries, but that is changing.
“Process industries have been automating systems since the introduction of SCADA systems and computers.”
Implementing the FDIR system is part of a long-term plan Horizon has to better serve its consumers and take advantage of developments in technology.
Caudwell says the firm is in the process of developing an outages management system to better understand where faults occur on the network.
“Ultimately we’d like to have smart meters as part of that - telling us where customers are without supply - but because the of the nature of New Zealand’s regulatory environment and the fact that the meters are typically owned by the retailers it really requires some willpower and cooperation to make that happen.”
Horizon also recently deployed Smartrak – a system for monitoring and managing the dispatch of its staff in the field. Caudwell says the technology shows where field workers are in relation to the firm’s assets.