A POWER supplier responsible for households across Hampshire is trialling new software to predict power cuts.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks will be piloting a new system in the hope of preventing major power cuts.

The company, which is responsible for maintaining the electricity networks for more than 3.1 million homes and businesses in its patch, will be using the new distribution fault anticipation technology for the next twelve months.

The firm is working in partnership with UK Power Networks, Lord Consulting in New Zealand, Nortech Management Limited and Energy Innovation Centre, funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance.

Distribution fault anticipation systems work by using high levels of sampling rates to identify network faults before they interrupt customers’ power supplies.

The DFA-Plus device monitors voltage and current on electricity circuits to detect the smallest of disturbances - which traditional network protection systems may miss – and then matches any abnormal waveforms with a catalogue of data to identify the most likely causes of the anomaly.

SSEN will begin the process of installing the DFA technology in its substations across central southern England in January and February this year; gradually rolling out the programme over the next twelve months to enable up to 15 individual units to be installed on its network serving homes and businesses across areas including Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and West London.

Each unit, which is roughly the size of a small games console, has the capability to continuously monitor several kilometres of network, and therefore the supply to thousands of customers, on both the 11kV and 33kV electricity infrastructure.

George Simopoulos, a manager at the supplier, said: “We embrace the use of cutting-edge technology on our network that can improve both the service and power supply we provide to our customers, and the efficient and safe working practices of our engineers. Systems such as these can also assist us in reducing our impact on the environment by helping pinpoint potential faults, and thereby cutting down on the need to inspect large areas of overhead or underground cabling.

“The ability to monitor our network - and therefore pre-empt potential power cuts – greatly reduces the risk of unplanned outages, enables us to act quickly when issues are highlighted through the new system and reassures our customers that we are proactively using innovative systems to maximise the resilience of their power supply.

“Taking part in this programme and sharing knowledge with our partners in this year-long trial is a great example of collaborative working to benefit many millions of homes and businesses in southern England.”

Chino Atako, senior asset engineer at UK Power Networks, said: “The advantage of using these units is that we now have more eyes on the network to see things we wouldn’t normally be able to see - which could enable a quicker, cheaper, more proactive approach to fault location and repairs.

“Traditionally, repairs are carried out after a fault which has led to customers losing supplies, but such events are preceded by pre-fault events we cannot usually see. If we could identify these, we can further increase the reliability and efficiency of our network and cut the cost of repairs.”

The trial runs until February 2022.