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WPD (UK) Increase Network Automation

Western Power Distribution (WPD) the UK's highest ranked Electricity Distribution Operator, has decided to expand it's Network Automation data radio network.

WPD has been utilising data radios and RTUs supplied by Netcontrol for nearly two decades in their southern regions (South West England and South Wales) and were one of the first DNO's to realise the potential of remote control and automation of their distribution network.

WPD recently expanded its asset base by acquiring the business of Midlands Electricity Board (MEB) and East Midlands Electricity Board (EMEB) from EOn, making it geographically the largest UK Network Operator.

In order to deliver the same high Quality of Supply (QoS) performance WPD has achieved in their Southern region, they have embarked on another ambitious remote control and automation scheme in their new territories, utilising the same 'tried and tested' data radio approach.

To that end WPD have ordered 400 master PDR121 data radios to be utilised at key primary substations to act as gateways in to their secondary distribution network, and the associated outstation data radios to be used at recloser and ring main units.

RTU's in the primary substations act as the connection between the main Scada system and the data radio gateways/data concentrators. The data radios then allow WPD's secondary distribution assets, including pole mounted reclosers, sectionalisers, motor operated air-break disconnectors and ground mounted Ring Main Units to be absorbed into full scada control and automation.

The Netcontrol data radio is designed to give wide area coverage without the need for a costly infrastructure. Master radios are located at the Utitlities primary substations and general employ a high gain antenna (in the UHF or VHF spectrum) at a height of between 6 and 10m. This is achieved using a standard antenna pole mounted to the side of the primary substation building. The outstation data radios use an antenna mounted on the wooden or concrete pole in the case of reclosers and sectionalisers and on a standard antenna pole at ground mounted switchgear locations. Since the PDR121 data radios run in a fixed mesh configuration, scada messages can be routed via a number of intermediate slave radios before arriving at the desired outstation slave radio. This approach to communication, especially for the relative small data packet size of DNP3 and IEC101 messages allows for a very cost effective automation network, with tailored coverage and none of the ongoing costs of GRPS or 3/4G networks. Furthermore since the system is designed around the needs of the utility the stay-awake time, once electical power is lost is mesaured in days and not minutes, unlike subscriber based networks. This is a big comfort to a utility who will need to control their network long after any intitial power interruptions as is the case in major storms or ice-loading.

WPD Installing Netcontrol NME200NME200 on WPD NetworkPDR121 used by WPD for remote control