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Secondary substation monitoring helps shorten outage times

The ability to track down and eliminate faults in distribution networks rapidly is one of the most efficient ways of guaranteeing system uptime and minimising extended outages. SCADA systems have been used for some time to monitor distribution networks, and now new tools are being introduced to monitor secondary substations as well. Wimotec is the only Finnish company focusing on this area of innovation, and its units are already in use by a number of leading utilities.

The real-time monitoring of secondary substations is a problem around the world, primarily because no sufficiently cost-effective solution for the job of collecting key parameters, such as load and power quality values, has been available up until now. The problem is most acute in the case of old secondary substations, which were not designed with this type of feature in mind, and which can be particularly expensive to retrofit with conventional hardwired technology, as a result.

In the Scandinavian countries alone, for example, it is estimated that there are more than 120,000 secondary substations that could benefit from being monitored.

Wimotec’s WIMO technology is an ideal way of extending the scope of distribution network monitoring to secondary and basement substations.

Pioneering the field

The spread of GSM and GPRS networks has opened up new opportunities for monitoring these types of facilities, economically and reliably.

Wimotec’s WIMO units – based around a controller, sensors, a GSM modem, and a WIMO-Control server – have pioneered the area in Finland and in the Nordic region as a whole. The first units were installed in 2002, and they are now in use by leading utilities such as Fortum, Turku Energy, and Kuopio Energy.

Additional flexibility is provided by the fact that WIMO unit can be fitted in both new substations and as part of retrofit programmes.

Installed at critical points in a distribution networks, WIMO units can feed fault indication, alarm, and measurement data directly to network control centres. Not only can this data be used in managing day-to-day service operations and network planning more effectively, it can also provide vital insight into where problems are located in fault situations – speeding up fault clearance and guaranteeing better-quality power supply.

Extending the benefits

The benefits of WIMO technology are not limited to normal secondary substations, as it is equally well-suited to basement substations: inside shopping centres, industrial facilities, and homes. There are estimated to be more than 8,000 substations of this type in Finland alone.

Wimotec has calculated that at least a third of these facilities – which are often in hard-to-access locations, where faults can easily go unnoticed, increasing the risk of overheating and fire – could benefit considerably from WIMO technology.

> Seppo Pettissalo
(Published in High Technology Finland )