UPDATED 1 Sept: The EI library in London is temporarily closed to the public, as a precautionary measure in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The Knowledge Service will still be answering email queries via email , or via live chats during working hours (09:15-17:00 GMT). Our e-library is always open for members here: eLibrary , for full-text access to over 200 e-books and millions of articles. Thank you for your patience.
New Energy World
New Energy World embraces the whole energy industry as it connects and converges to address the decarbonisation challenge. It covers progress being made across the industry, from the dynamics under way to reduce emissions in oil and gas, through improvements to the efficiency of energy conversion and use, to cutting-edge initiatives in renewable and low carbon technologies.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and deep machine learning (ML) have the potential to make the electricity transmission and distribution grids more reliable and better able to cope with historic changes in the way power is generated and consumed – including the predicted mass uptake of electric vehicles (EV), explains John Langley-Davis, Head of Technology at Fundamentals.
The key problem for UK grid operators is that they have inherited a system which was designed for an era of centralised generation and relatively predictable consumption, running on assets which are getting old. Some underground low voltage (LV) cables, for example, were installed more than 100 years ago and have been patched and mended many times. Many transformers, which control voltages, were built well over 50 years ago and have yet to be upgraded to modern standards.
Rebuilding the grid infrastructure wholesale is not an option. It is far too expensive and disruptive. Nor is it entirely necessary, apart from targeted reinforcement and replacement. The real challenge is to make maximum use of the assets we already have by making them smarter – and using smarter technology to better manage them. So how can AI and deep ML help?
Old tech costs
Take the thousands of miles of buried LV cables which are the final links between the grid and consumers. Deteriorating joints and disintegrating insulation cause many thousands of failures of supply each year – representing 40% of customer complaints and 75% of customer minutes lost being the average amount of time that a customer is without power in a year. The first thing a network operator knows about an incident is usually when customers report an outage, because a fuse on the network has ruptured and tripped out the power.