Wildfire prevention tech

Online Editor

New solution increases grid resilience and reduces the risk of wildfires

Hitachi Energy is pioneering a new digital solution designed to improve grid resilience against wildfires. The new wireless SPU indicator helps utilities to keep important assets available by enabling remote monitoring and improved maintenance and replacement planning.

As climate change continues to cause temperatures to rise at a steady rate, longer periods of hot, dry weather play a significant role in intensifying the risk, frequency and severity of wildfires. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest “Climate Change 2021” report, increasing trends in extreme heat, drought and length of dry season have been observed. The increasing risk of wildfires brings a number of potential consequences including severe damage to electricity infrastructure. Investigations into the causes of wildfires have highlighted the same electrical infrastructure has been found among the top potential sources of the initial spark. In particular, thermally overloaded surge arresters installed on power lines in dry areas are an area of concern for utilities.

Hitachi Energy’s innovative spark prevention unit (SPU) monitors the current and thermal load of the surge arrester and automatically disconnects it from the network in the event of a thermal overload, therefore preventing any arcing, sparking or discharge of hot particles that could ignite a fire. A visual indicator alerts the utility field crew to the need for replacement. Hundreds of thousands of SPUs installed in some of the world’s most wildfire-prone areas such as the USA and Australia have had a real impact in preventing wildfires.

Now, Hitachi Energy builds on this innovation with the launch of the digitally enabled wireless SPU indicator. This digital solution automates visual inspection rounds to detect asset replacement by providing real-time status of an SPU, allowing utilities to perform remote monitoring and enable a strategic approach for asset maintenance and replacement planning.

Asset protection

“Our innovation is driving grid resiliency by safeguarding the network’s key assets,” says Markus Heimbach, managing director of Hitachi Energy’s High Voltage Products business. “By mitigating the risk of wildfires ignited by power lines, we are protecting communities, wildlife and the environment,” He adds: “We continue to pioneer technologies to advance the world’s energy system to be more sustainable, flexible and secure – for today’s generations and those to come.”

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