Solving One Energy Problem at a Time vs Solving the Majority at Once
- Apr 26, 2021 8:02 pm GMT
This item is part of the Special Issue - 2021-04 - Innovation in the Power Industry, click here for more
The energy industry is undergoing some of the greatest changes in recent decades. Hayden Data Systems (Hayden Data) is providing ground breaking technology that will allow the energy industry to meet these challenges. Providing actionable data that is generated from autonomously powered devices, Hayden Data utilizes an independent global communications network to assist the industry in making informed decisions in near real time.
The power grid is the largest machine mankind has ever built and operated. It was originally designed to unidirectionally transmit electrical energy from a centralized generation system to the end user. Power utilities face many challenges in operating and maintaining the grid safely, reliably, and efficiently. Examples include:
- Decentralization and intermittent generation;
- Grid congestion and harmonics;
- Continuously changing regulatory environment;
- More severe weather events; and
- Increased costs to maintain an aging infrastructure.
The oil and gas industry is also impacted by many of the same factors and would greatly benefit from technology. The industry has seen an increase in the amount of regulation relating to methane emissions, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hydrogen sulfide. The technology developed by Hayden Data is providing the tools necessary to remotely manage these issues. The detection, measurement and alert systems reduce reaction time resulting in mitigation of risk and reduction of cost.
Addressing these challenges can be a complicated and costly undertaking. More and more sophisticated sensor technologies and data acquisition systems are available, but they are often high cost due to the need for supporting infrastructure such as connections to power and communications, while questions remain regarding what to do with the increasingly complex and heavy loads of data generated. Hayden Data is addressing these challenges by providing a device that can attach to assets without the need for additional infrastructure, while also providing customers’ with a user friendly interface that converts raw data into meaningful actionable information.
The Start of the Journey
In February of 2009, Australia saw some of their worst bushfires raging through the state of Victoria, burning more than a million acres of land, destroying in excess of 2,000 homes and unfortunately killing 173 people. This event is commonly known as the “Black Saturday Fires”, where failing infrastructure was a contributor to some of these fires, ultimately resulting in a class action settlement. From the aftermath of this tragedy, Iain Puddy, an Australian inventor, set out to find a technical solution to the problem. “The idea was to come up with a technology to monitor power poles’ health in terms of residual strength in real-time, to enable utilities to transition from inefficient schedule-based maintenance towards condition-based targeted maintenance and make events like Black Saturday a thing of the past” he recalls. “Utilities today have no way of knowing the state of health of their infrastructure, especially in remote locations, apart from current inspection methods that, due to scarce resources and cost, only can take place every three to five years. We need to change that“.
A New Technology is Born
Puddy invented a sensor technology that continuously monitors the structural health of power poles and transmission towers, adding smoke and gas detectors, weather monitoring, and cameras for visual confirmation. “One of the main challenges we wanted to address was to eliminate the need for access to power and communications, to create a completely autonomous system that could be deployed even in the most remote areas, without compromising the availability of near-real-time data”, Puddy says. “We wanted to be a data company, but nobody could provide the hardware we needed, so we successfully designed and built our own devices out of my garage”.
Puddy and his team decided that the devices should be battery powered and recharged via solar, should communicate with each through a meshed network to gateway device (cellular, satellite and ethernet), and make the data available to the user through an interactive user interface. This allows the system to go into remote areas where no connectivity exists. “Not only do we provide our own meshed communications network, we are also self- healing, as the maximum distance between any two units is much greater than the typical distance between any two poles or transmission towers. The system remains fully functional, even if one or several units were taken out by a car crashing into a pole, or a storm downing it.”
Prototypes of the technology went up on power poles around Australia. “The utility companies could not believe the analyzed data when we presented it to them. We were able to demonstrate the exact state of health of each asset we had been monitoring, with samples taken every five minutes. We could even see variations in behavior over the different seasons throughout the year, associated with ground moisture levels. One Australian utility went as far as to organize an internal hackathon to verify the results, which confirmed we were, without doubt, on the right path”.
Making the US Energy Sector Safer and More Resilient
The main focus for Hayden Data is the energy sector, covering Transmission and Distribution for the Power Utilities as well as the Oil and Gas on shore industry. The technology was originally developed to allow these industries to transition their maintenance and reporting from schedule-based to condition-based. That is, identifying at risk assets and focusing maintenance resources on these, with the aim of improving the reliability and safety of the network.
Puddy partnered up with Stephen Whitehurst, a Grand Junction, Colorado-based businessman that heard about Puddy’s effort to revolutionize how power utilities manage their assets in 2019. “When I heard about the technology, I thought right away how relevant this would also be for the US power grid. After travelling to Australia to meet Puddy and visit utilities around the country, we decided to launch the technology in the US in 2020”, says Whitehurst. “Since then, we have concentrated on production to meet the demand. There are millions of poles and transmission towers across the US, and this is still just the beginning”. This challenge is now being met head on and the security of manufacturing supply has been finalized. Whitehurst, CEO of Hayden Data, also recognizes the Oil and Gas sector as an industry where “We can eliminate all this need for inspections in the field and enable our customers to allocate their maintenance resources to fix problems when and where they occur”.
AI/ML-based Analytics and Reporting
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are the future of the Energy industry, and there is no shortage of sensor tech to collect and to generate overwhelming amounts of data. However, the quality of data analysis and its output usually depends on the sophistication of existing systems used to ingest said data. Hayden Data includes advanced analytics that, based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, process data and provide it in the form of actionable reports, refined and granular visualization in a map-based user interface. The user experience includes receiving the information that is needed to make informed decisions.
One of the key benefits of the technology is the ability to address vegetation management. This much needed technology has been well-received by utilities across the US. “We continue to unearth more and more applications for our technology”, inventor and Hayden Data’s CTO Iain Puddy says. “For example, originally we added the camera to our technology to allow for visual confirmation of critical data received. More than one power utility has made us aware that being able to provide visuals down the conductor’s line would save them considerable expense, as they currently employ a fleet of helicopters just to generate visuals on possible vegetation encroachment in clearance areas. With our AI, we can detect this encroachment and eliminate the need for field inspections completely, enabling the technology to simply advise them where and when to go and what tasks needs to be done”.
Dynamic Line Rating
An example of another use of the technology relates to Dynamic Line Rating (DLR). As the technology monitors ambient conditions, such as wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, UV levels and rain, we can provide near-real time data to allow for an increase in the rated capacity of transmission lines, which can be much higher than the static ratings that utilities currently conform to. Thus, DLR can help utilities to reduce grid congestion and optimize transmission, especially with an increase in the amount of intermittent power generation from renewable sources. DLR also helps utilities defer expensive capital upgrades by making better use of existing line capacity and increasing revenue. The cameras on board Hayden Smart sensors are even able to monitor line sag and alert utilities about potential line-to-ground fault dangers when sagging lines approach vegetation in clearance areas.
“We have developed additional features to our technology that will provide further insights into DLR after successfully receiving a grant last year with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC)” says Puddy. “This includes measuring current flow and core temperature of conductors plus the introduction of an infrared camera”. There are also plans to monitor frequencies associated with harmonics and failing transformers.
Vigorous Testing and Even Burping Cows
From early prototype testing through to extreme condition testing, “The technology has performed perfectly” Puddy explains. “Our technology has been tested in dry, arid, alpine, cotton country and high humidity locations, with one of the tests identifying unusual gas readings which we could not immediately explain. These readings were of varying levels of methane emissions, yet there was no gas infrastructure nearby. After using our onboard cameras to see what was going on, we identified cattle grazing nearby”.
Compliance and Awareness
Hayden Data’s technology measures a multitude of sensors, both related to the environment as well as the condition of the asset.
- Air pressure;
- Wind speed and direction;
- Rain fall;
- UV levels;
- Power pole movement to derive structural health (foundational issues with concrete poles, rusting steel poles) and residual strength (primarily timber poles);
- Smoke and Gas detection;
- Ground moisture levels;
- Acoustics; and
The technology provides the data in raw form and produces refined actionable reports and alerts, in near-real time and through an interactive user interface for our clients.
The data collected (based on 5 min samples of all on board sensors) is stored securely for the life of asset and can be retrieved at any time for reporting and analysis.
The other major use of the technology is awareness to the surrounding communities, especially environmental conditions associated with:
- Localized bushfires;
- Localized flooding;
- Toxic cloud plumes.
Regulatory and compliance requirements on infrastructure operators are becoming more rigorous, due to the potential impact of operations on the surrounding environment and communities they serve. Hayden Data provides a solution to ensure rich data is captured in relation to asset performance and its impact, enabling infrastructure owners to comply with a broad range of regulation.
Storm events, restoration and insurability
Storm restoration can be a significant cost driver after severe weather events. Apart from residents’ and customers’ reporting outages, utilities today have only limited possibilities to know what sections of their infrastructure has been affected by storms and rely on manual inspections and verifications in the field. Hayden Data keeps track of the state of health of power infrastructure during weather in near-real time and immediately generates reports and alerts on downed power infrastructure. Power utilities can, during a weather event, start organizing and planning for after-storm restoration and recovery to focus the allocation of their resources accordingly.
Hayden Data have also approached the insurance sector to see if the use of our technology would potentially assist the energy industries that are currently self-insured to be in a position to qualify for coverage, with positive results. For insurance providers, data and awareness on the condition of assets helps quantify risk. Hayden Data’s technology gives power utilities the ways and means to not only monitor their assets’ state of health in regard to the impact of severe weather events, but also manages historical data to gain a complete understanding of asset condition.
Hayden Data’s technology is revolutionizing the way the energy industry organizes their asset management and maintenance by deploying resources when and where needed and enabling targeted and efficient planning.
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