Pilot for Swissgrid
Switzerland’s national power grid operator Swissgrid AG is the owner and sole operator of the 4200 miles of powerlines, 146 substations, and around 12000 pylons of the Alpine country’s 380kV and 220kV grid. This gives Swissgrid a lead role in Switzerland’s renewable energy revolution. As a highly innovative company, it lives up to that challenge by innovating solutions for a sustainable and efficient power infrastructure that follows and integrates the newest advances in research and development in the field.
Many of Swissgrid’s power lines cross high Alpine passes, where they are exposed to extreme weather in the winter season. With two thirds of the current grid infrastructure hailing from the 1960s, some pylons might not live up to current mechanical standards of protection against ice loads on the lines. To prevent damage, they have already been fitted with sensors to track ice loads and intervene by heating up the lines whenever the load passes a certain threshold. However, experience shows that the current system of monitoring ice loads with tension meters is overly complex and not sufficiently reliable for its purpose.
In the search for a more viable solution, Swissgrid opted in favour of an innovative ASTROSE® pilot system for ice load detection. A particularly critical section of a 220kV line was chosen in the Canton of Obwalden for a trial installation, as the area has historically early frost, with first ice loads registered in September. Twenty wireless sensor nodes were installed to monitor the pilot section, and the base station receiving the sensor data and other equipment were placed in a control cabinet already installed on a pylon on the line. A fibre optic connection links the ASTROSE® pilot system with the wider communication infrastructure of Swissgrid.