GridSense Develops Battery-free Monitoring for Underground Infrastructure and Transformer Applications



GridSense, a subsidiary of Acorn Energy, which develops and markets advanced monitoring solutions for the electric power industry, has developed a maintenance-free and battery-less monitoring system for a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored project. This self-powered system will allow utilities to cost-effectively monitor dead-front transformers, underground feeders and any other areas of the power grid where an AC (alternating current) power supply is not available. Tested and currently deployed at a major utility in California, GridSense expects the solution to be readily available in 2012. There are over 30 million transformers installed in the U.S. and it is estimated that over one million are in underground enclosures that are difficult to maintain and monitor. The GridSense solution parasitically draws power from insulated cables and enables continuous monitoring of various asset parameters. Unlike battery-powered monitors that have a finite life span and provide the single function of only detecting faults, the GridSense system is designed to last the life of the asset it is monitoring and can actually prevent faults by capturing real-time performance data. Like all GridSense offerings, the new battery-less solution is easy to retrofit and provides more reliable protection for electric grid assets. "This new product offering overcomes a major hurdle for the industry," says GridSense CEO Lindon Shiao. "The ability to cost-effectively monitor dead front transformers, switches and underground cable extends GridSense's reach into parts of the network previously cost prohibitive or technologically challenging to monitor. By monitoring these critical points at the distribution level, utilities now have the visibility and intelligence to proactively control power flows in order to optimize asset utilization, prevent failure and ultimately improve reliability." "The opportunity to start an affordable upgrade of our nation's vast underground electrical infrastructure to a self-healing network makes this a high-profile project," said John Moore, CEO of Acorn Energy. "Until now, this was impossible due to traditional applications which relied upon expensive and unreliable battery-powered technology."