Building network resilience through automation



Creating reliable access to electricity for millions of homes and businesses and addressing the energy generation shortfall remain, without a doubt, the biggest challenges facing the energy sector across Africa.

Across the continent, business and domestic demand is rising rapidly, as a result of connection projects, population growth, urbanisation and sustained economic development. Companies are under pressure to secure a stable, reliable and high performance distribution network to meet their customers’ current and future needs, while complying with ever more stringent performance measures.

The Gemini 3 RTU.

Managing this balance is a tough job, and network automation is increasingly being seen as the way to improve network efficiency and build resilience. More and more projects are being implemented to improve service quality and reduce power outages.

Improving service quality

Lucy Electric has a huge depth of experience in designing and implementing automation projects which help to meet specific challenges and provide end-to-end support for customers. The compny recently completed projects in Kenya and Uganda, with the objective of improving SAIDI (system average interruption duration index) and SAIFI (system average interruption frequency index). These two electricity utilities take both the continuity of electrical supply and customer service seriously as they roll out electrification in urban and rural areas.

Lucy Electric provided a fully engineered, bespoke, turnkey solution, specifying its Aegis Plus ring main unit (RMU) with an integrated, latest generation, Gemini 3 remote terminal unit (RTU). The Gemini 3 allows for fast and flexible reconfiguration options to improve customer experience and has significantly enhanced the quality of supply to end users.

Lucy Electric also designed bespoke additional elements for the Gemini 3 RTUs to meet the client’s specific requirements, including an improved long-life battery function, upgraded monitoring software and a special plug and socket interface to improve the speed and ease of installation.

The units have been well received by the client’s installation and commissioning staff and the platform has already demonstrated its flexibility, integrating seamlessly into the organisation’s “smart” flexible generation connection systems.

Increasing network efficiency

Another example of its automation work is the recent project with UK Power Networks (UKPN), one of the biggest network operators in the UK. UKPN needed to maintain a high performance network and the highest quality of service, while meeting growing demand from customers in London.

Lucy Electric developed a bespoke solution for UKPN, installing its Gemini 3 RTU – a highly flexible platform for advanced feeder automation – onto UKPN’s network, with additional elements and modules to meet specific requirements, both technically and commercially. The Gemini 3 was the ideal solution as its flexible architecture was suitable for any application the extensive network could present, including yet to be identified future needs.

This flexible and scalable solution ensures that UKPN can meet current and future needs of its customers, and is set to make London the first major global capital with a fully automated energy distribution network.

Conclusion

As utilities and network distribution operators across Africa invest in automation projects to expand and develop the electricity infrastructure, they will face many opportunities and challenges. Organisations need partners that have a deep expertise and the flexibility to tailor products and project delivery to suit their changing needs.

With a huge depth of experience in designing and implementing automation projects. Lucy Electric is able to support customers at any stage of network automation. The company works closely with customers to ensure that their specific challenges and needs are met and can provide support from end-to-end project design to specifying product and providing post-installation training and support.

The company’s full range of modular automation solutions includes retrofit and automation-ready equipment to deliver these projects in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.

Contact Rick St. John, Lucy Electric, Tel 011 025-7490, rick.stjohn@lucyelectric.com

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Source: EE plublishers

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