Withthegrid and Crest Sensors use asset monitoring to address critical energy infrastructures. They are developing a real-time monitoring system for transformers. In this way, congestion and malfunctions in the electricity grid are immediately flagged up and more sustainable electricity can be connected.
With the use of sensors, faults are detected immediately. This reduces the number of inspections required – a positive development, given the growing shortage of technical personnel and the increased workload driven by the expansion of the network. Furthermore, the lifespan of the transformers is extended. ‘We measure exactly how much a transformer can handle,’ explains Paul Mignot, founder and director of Withthegrid. ‘So you never burden it excessively.’
Dealing with grid congestion
By commercialising a solution that shows the load capacity of the transformers, it immediately becomes clear where there is congestion on the grid. ‘It is an easy way to remotely monitor transformers in real time and thus be in a position to feed more sustainable electricity into the electricity grid,’ says Paul. ‘It also helps to determine where major peaks occur in the energy consumption of induction hobs, electric transport and heat pumps’. Grid operators can work in a more targeted way if it is clear where bottlenecks have arisen, and they can see when they have been resolved.
Major industrial player
With the Smart Energy Systems subsidy, Withthegrid is able to test the feasibility of predicting the lifespan of transformers. ‘Thus we can determine whether we can legitimately carry out maintenance inspections on the basis of the data.’ Rotterdam is the perfect place for that. ‘With the port, this region is a major industrial player,’ says Paul. These challenges will be more concentrated in Rotterdam. ‘It would be great if we could identify a number of trial locations with the municipality of Rotterdam and apply this concept more extensively in consultation with the grid operators.’ For example, by monitoring the effect of solar panels on transformer load.
It is important to have a properly functioning energy system. Sustainable infrastructure makes a positive contribution to the Rotterdam economy. As Paul says: ‘As soon as we can roll this out further, it will speed up energy transition in Rotterdam.’ In addition, it will take the pressure off inspection work and create high-quality jobs. An important side benefit!