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UK National Grid selects Exfo for fiber-optic monitoring project…

18 Jan 2023

…and Israel Electric and Prisma Photonics sign deal to monitor over 1,000 km of Israel's power network.

The UK’s National Grid, one of the world’s largest public utilities focused on transmission and distribution of electricity and gas, has selected Exfo for a pilot project to provide monitoring for its ongoing fiber network health assessment in the UK, supporting the UK’s goal of becoming net-zero by 2050.

National Grid has deployed an overhead fiber optic operational telecommunications network across its electricity transmission infrastructure that carries critical information essential for secure and efficient utility operations. Exfo’s technology will help assess the operational condition of the fiber network, while predicting its remaining technical lifespan and identifying potential points of weakness or failure.

For the first time in such an application, Exfo will also collect data from Intellisense Systems micro weather station Internet of Things devices being deployed to measure the specific environmental impact of wind, humidity and meteorological events. Exfo’s AI-based analytics solution will amalgamate and correlate data from both the fiber optic network and weather system inputs, and dynamically predict, detect, and prevent outages.

Exfo’s optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) fiber monitoring units are being deployed at key nodes on the fiber optic network to monitor its optical transmission characteristics and measure its health and condition.

National Grid anticipates that Exfo’s proactive monitoring and fault detection can deliver a net benefit of as much as £2.9m ($3.5M) derived from failure avoidance and extending the lifespan of the existing network.

Tom Charton, Senior Innovation Engineer at the National Grid, commented, “Operational telecommunications networks are an important part of our critical national infrastructure and play a key role in enabling our transition to a net zero economy by 2050. Large parts of our fiber network are reaching an age where failures may become more frequent and more difficult to address.”

Wim te Niet, VP, EMEA, at Exfo, said, “Our remote, proactive fiber testing and monitoring solution provides complete visibility across the fiber network, with capabilities to predict and detect potential outages in real time. Coupled with weather sensing equipment, we can help ensure network reliability so the lights stay on for everyone.”

Prisma Photonics to monitor Israel Electric’s network

Israel Electric Corp. is to extend its cooperation with Prisma Photonics which has been using optical fibers to monitor the national transmission grid since 2020. The extension will expand Prisma Photonics’ coverage to 1,000 km (over 620 miles), which is 20% of the transmission grid.

The solution will monitor events threatening the regular operation of the power network and alert on faults with exact geographical locations. Monitoring will allow better grid management, fast fault response, and increase the grid's reliability.

In addition, collected weather and grid data will optimize the existing network, paving the way to better integrate renewable energy sources on the path to net zero emissions.

PrismaPower uses the existing optical fiber network to monitor hundreds and even thousands of kilometers on the grid. It measures weather conditions around the electrical lines, locating faults and vandalism. The information and alerts pinpoint the location of the closest power tower, enabling quick response to restore service to normal. PrismaPower also uncovers slow processes such as partial discharges, which can harm the network, thus allowing preventive maintenance and increasing the power network's resiliency.

Amir Livne, Senior VP of Strategy and Innovation at IEC, said, “Prisma Photonics adds an important aspect to Israel Electric’s commitment to innovation, developing and improving our existing grid while facing the growth in power demand and realizing our long-term net zero and renewable energy visions.”

Dr. Eran Inbar, Prisma Photonics’ CEO, added, “We are extending our coverage to 1,000 km using new technology to a span no one has attempted before. The extension could improve the Israeli power ecosystem. Adding Dynamic Line Rating to assess transmission line capacity will enhance power delivery over existing lines during peak demand. Without installing additional sensors on the wires, all this will be accomplished over IEC's existing optical fiber network.”

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