SP Energy Networks launches support room to detect faults before they happen

SP Energy Networks can now spot potential faults on its electricity distribution network before they happen, with the help of advanced monitoring technology and an innovative ‘support room’.
The so-called LV (low voltage) Support Room has been set up at the network’s Cambuslang depot on the outskirts of Glasgow. Its advanced monitoring technology provides real-time information on supplies across its operating area, analysing data from Central and Southern Scotland.
Previously, engineers relied on customers identifying problems and calling the 105 hotline to report an outage. They often had to dig holes in roads to locate the precise location of the fault and carry out a repair. But the LV Support Room uses data from smart meters and electricity substations, which highlight where a potential fault may occur on the electricity network. It helps engineers find exact locations where repairs are required, sometimes before power drops and customers are even aware of an issue.
The LV Support Room was established as a permanent part of SP Energy Networks’ operations following a trial in Cambuslang that identified 30 ‘pre-faulting’ circuits. This saved an estimated £60,000 in equipment damage, stopped unnecessary power cuts and reduced the amount of time customers were without electricity during repairs.
The new setup also supports future plans for the power network by providing a comprehensive picture of the potential impacts the predicted increase in electricity demand will bring as more and more people make the move to electric vehicles and heat pumps in the march to net zero.
There are plans for the LV Support Room to become a 24/7 operation – expanding the network coverage with the installation of additional monitoring equipment and enhanced smart meter data usage over the next five years. This will allow SP Energy Networks to maximise the existing network and identify areas where network upgrades would have the biggest impact.
Craig Arthur, SP Distribution Director (Central & Southern Scotland) at SP Energy Networks, said:“Faults are an unavoidable part of any energy network and our LV Support Room is helping to revolutionise the way we spot and handle problems when they happen.
“It improves network performance, reduces network interruptions and reduces time off supply for our customers. And as more customers apply to connect electric vehicles and heat pumps, the cumulative demand on the electricity network increases significantly and can lead to new or larger infrastructure being required to service that demand. The LV Support Room means we now have a full picture of that demand and can use the data gathered to better inform investment decisions for the LV network – both in terms of where the investment is needed and crucially, when.
“It’s allowing us to maximise our capacity for low carbon technologies, which will help us support the UK to achieve its Net Zero ambitions.”
The LV monitors installed on the network that send data back to the support room have been produced by EA Technology.
Dave A Roberts, Commercial Director at EA Technology, said: “Pre-fault identification opens up a whole new world to owners and operators of power networks, one where likely faults can be intercepted before they happen. We are seeing the monitoring of low voltage networks becoming more commonplace, partly driven by a need to understand changes in demand with the transition to decarbonised energy, but partly as ways to improve resilience at homes and businesses.
“The UK is leading the world in this technology – from small beginnings we now have over 10,000 LV circuits using this pre-fault technology today, which will increase to over 40,000 by the end of the year. EA Technology are delighted to be working with SP Energy Networks on their LV Support Room and in turn, improving the supply quality to its customers.”

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