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Sentient Energy makes power delivery safe, reliable and solar ready. The California-based company provides the industry’s only Grid Analytics System that covers the entire distribution network with quickly deployable intelligent sensors that identify and analyze potential faults and other grid events. Sentient offers the largest mesh network line sensor deployments in North America.
Expand the grid monitoring capability by adding cellular and hybrid mesh networks to quickly and easily deploy solutions with multiple carriers across the globe
Many utilities still run substations, reclosers and other critical assets and loads on autopilot, as remote monitoring has traditionally been too costly and laborious to implement. Sentient’s Grid Analytics System was developed to offer a cost-effective solution that can be deployed and deliver results within hours.
“When utilities don’t monitor their grid, they are flying blind,” explained Samir Badia, Program Manager at Sentient. “If a sudden surge occurs, for instance from a lightning strike, detection and restoration must be done manually, which is very labor and time intensive. The utility will spend a great deal of time just locating the outage, whereas a remote monitoring solution can provide the outage location in real-time, as well as additional information that will enable the utility to dispatch the correct equipment for quick service restoration.”
Grid monitoring using Sentient’s MM3 Intelligent sensor and Ample Analytics Suite offers utilities the ability to identify and analyze potential faults and other grid events by monitoring information such as the load (or current) on wires and temperature, as well as by providing GPS capabilities to pinpoint fault location. In addition, wave form data is captured for analytics that assist with planning and maintenance.
Utilities can use multiple communication technologies to monitor their infrastructure in different regions. In some areas, utilities rely heavily on mesh networks, while in other areas they prefer cellular for communication.
“Utilities is North America have heavily invested in mesh, but cellular is more accepted globally,” continued Samir Badia.
Cellular communication offers the advantages with higher bandwidth and faster throughput as compared to mesh. In addition, cellular carriers offer network management, making cellular solutions faster to plan and implement, while mesh networks require management by the utility itself or a third-party vendor.
“Sentient was looking to provide a complete portfolio, so that our customers can implement the grid monitoring solution that works best for them,” said Badia. “We needed to add a cellular and hybrid mesh/cellular package so that our utility customers have a choice between technologies and can decide what works best in different service areas.”
The support and pricing provided by Sierra Wireless both contributed to our selection, but the main requirement to have one module that works across global cellular network technologies was the most critical factor in our decision.
Program Manager, Sentient
In the United States alone, power outages are up 285 percent since 1984, the consequences of which are significant. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said power outages cost businesses as much as $150 billion a year; this loss doesn’t account for the incredible inconvenience to utility customers and the resulting customer dissatisfaction levels.
Grid monitoring using Sentient’s MM3 Intelligent sensor and Ample Analytics Suite offers utilities an easily and quickly deployed solution that dramatically accelerates feeder fault isolation and restoration, helping utilities lower circuit patrol time and the total number of customer minutes interrupted. This results in significant reductions in the two critical measurements used by energy providers, system average interruption duration index (SAIDI) and system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI), both of which can be equated to a significant monetary loss if not kept to a minimum.
Currently, Sentient has 25,000 grid monitoring solutions deployed with well-known utility providers such as FPL, PG&E, SCE, Manitoba Hydro, KCPL and AEP. With the added benefit of cellular communication, new opportunities have opened with larger providers such as BC Hydro and Duke Energy, and enhanced partnerships with leading network providers Silver Spring Networks, Cisco, Landis+Gyr and AT&T. In addition, Sentient has been able to get traction internationally, where use of cellular by utilities is much more widespread than mesh technology.
When compared to mesh deployment, cellular deployment is much faster, as it typically requires just a couple of weeks to acquire the modules. Mesh requires more involvement because of the requirements for developing a network management process. “Sentient’s ability to offer a portfolio that includes both communications options, with maximum compatibility across cellular technologies, makes our solution that much more robust and relevant to a wider audience of utilities and energy solution providers,” said Badia.
MC Series Module