Powerline’s AI could halve power cuts

Fundamentals-owned Powerline Technologies is working with UK Power Networks and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks on a project that could dramatically reduce low voltage faults.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is something of a ‘hot topic’ in the science world, as technologists look for way to use computer learning to improve everything from the daily commute to email inbox spam filters. 

Now, Powerline Technologies has developed a solution that could dramatically enhance the reliability of low-voltage power delivery. As part of the SYNAPS project, Powerline’s solution builds a library of measurements delivered by UK Power Networks voltage analysis technology. 

Big Data – fast learning

With some 100,000 measurements made every second, the volume of information easily falls into the category of ‘big data’.

This is where AI takes over.  With the measurements being analysed to spot trends, patterns or voltage irregularities, ‘machine learning’ will allow the system to recognise conditions that could lead to faults before they happen.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) are also part of the 14-month SYNAPS pilot project which, if it fulfils its potential, could halve the number low voltage network faults. Initial backing of £680,000 is being provided through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance.

According to Powerline Technologies CEO, Brian Lasslett:

"The introduction of the SYNAPS innovative machine learning will enable distribution network operators to proactively manage their networks through preventative maintenance to repair faults before a hard failure, implementing real time network monitoring to minimise impact of faults on customers.”

A commercial case for AI

The partnership is not alone in recognising the potential AI could deliver to the energy sector.  In recently reported comments from Michael Phelan - CEO of commercial demand-side response provider GridBeyond – he urged business decision-makers to link AI applications to their organisations’ energy consumption.  

He highlighted the increase in electricity demand – both commercially and domestically – combined with the existing “intermittent” nature of renewable energy, all of which requires increasing sophisticated technology to manage.

He noted that industrial and commercial consumers have a significant role to play in balancing electricity supply and demand, adding:

“Highly advanced technological platforms enable large energy users to fully control their energy assets and embedded generation, improve production processes and predict and prevent system failures, whilst optimising savings and revenue opportunities.”