Dr Jon Hiscock, managing director, Fundamentals Company strategy, Energy networks, Network Excellence, Strategy & management, Technology, Opinion

Deploying advanced communications to technologies that can deliver real customer value will be essential for network operators to ensure that more than £25 billion of spending under RIIO2 is invested wisely, says Dr Jon Hiscock, managing director of power technology specialist Fundamentals.

Communication should no longer be regarded in terms of individual, tactical connections between disparate assets and management systems. It has become a foundation technology for smarter management of whole power system at a strategic level.

Traditionally, communications have been used as a way of connecting assets with monitoring and control centres: expensive to modify and challenging to integrate, with lots of data points. The latest comms technologies are web and cloud-based, posing no risk to existing control systems and enabling insights which add value to existing assets, using previously unobtainable data.

For example, a typical substation will have limited data being transferred in and out, to prioritise critical control instructions for scenarios like fault restoration. By contrast, deploying integrated, scalable communication and automation platforms opens a myriad of options for analytics targeted at specific assets, rather than collecting the same data at every substation. This is particularly important for demanding smart grid applications, embracing micro grids, and distribution automation.

Our recent acquisition of SystemCORP Energy Pty Ltd has deepened our insight into these end-to-end network solutions, with our combined know-how enabling us to deliver network-wide solutions in communications and other complementary areas such as Automatic Voltage Control, substation automation and fault detection.

We believe new approaches to communications will be vital for DSOs to deliver on RIIO2’s aims of greener power at an affordable cost to consumers.

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