Safe and sound: An EA Technology method for checking the health of Britain’s electricity networks will help keep the lights on

Sometimes it’s easy to take things for granted − including a constant supply of gas and electricity to your home or business. Severe weather (such as the recent sub-zero temperatures and snow blizzards, caused by the “Beast from the East” weather front), left thousands of Britons without power in their homes.
Electricity power networks are a vital part of our national infrastructure. How can we keep the lights on, whatever the weather?

The answer is a regular MOT for the millions of circuit breakers, transformers, cables and other “assets” in the power distribution network.

EA Technology and electricity network operators have developed a unique method used by energy regulator Ofgem to check whether the assets of the UK’s power network are safe and reliable yet cost effective for the customer.

It’s one of the most advanced regulatory systems of its kind in the world.

Under the new regulation, (the rather un-snappily titled “Common Network Asset Indices Methodology”), which began last year, distribution network operators including Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks and Northern Powergrid, must each year report to Ofgem on the state of their assets (conductors, cables, etc.).

Network operators must estimate the likelihood that that their assets will fail and how serious the consequences of any failure would be.
Critical assets could include an oil-filled cable, which would cause environmental damage if it leaks, or a large “transformer”, which could cost millions of pounds to replace and potentially impact on electricity supply to customers

Software systems that evaluate health, likelihood of failure and criticality for each asset have been developed by EA Technology. Optimised programs then help distribution operators work out what investments to make on the network, including refurbishment, repair or replacement of each asset.

The new methodology is helping distribution operators and Ofgem.

For network operators, it’s effective and transparent in supporting investment cases. Ofgem gets a more accurate and comprehensive snapshot of the condition of assets, keeping the costs down to customers, whilst ensuring the network can cope, come rain or shine.

We may not ever be able to control the weather, but at least with EA Technology’s methodology for checking the health of assets in Britain’s electricity system, our networks can be better prepared to withstand blizzards, snow drifts and sudden plunges in temperature.

Blog by Joanne Peacock