APTP Articles

Embracing ‘State of the Art’ in MV Cable Testing

When assessing what might at first appear to be a “new technology” to our industry, it is reasonable to seek a degree of evidence of its established provenance offshore and in the application to which it is intended to be applied in the ‘local’ context.

When that ‘new technology’ is well established offshore but new to our region or industry, we must consider the question what information is required to address and allay any uncertainties or questions as to the suitability of the technology per se for the intended application and the quality of its said provenance

This discourse, in part philosophy and in part technical update, illustrates but one such current scenario of significant consequence presently before us in the Australasian Power Industry. In this case, however, the gravitas of the situation is magnified…there is a major and pressing job to be done but it appears presently that there is little interest from our Industry in embracing either the task at hand or the pathway to that end. This discussion document is, then, timely in its theme and discourse in laying the matter before us as an Industry.

What is the Problem to be Solved? A Perspective and Observations:

The purposes of this discussion are:

  • To draw attention to the disturbing fact that extremely little detailed and systematic condition profiling is currently being deployed or contemplated for the MV (11-33 kV) cable population across the Australasian region (with a few notable exceptions in NZ and Australia). This effectively means that our MV cable asset base, which constitute some 50+ % on average of the capital value of most urban electricity distribution networks, is essentially of unknown condition! Right at a time when our aging MV cable infrastructure is being asked to step up to take even more load from renewable generation, this should be a most concerning observation to us all and of far-reaching potential interest also to our shareholders, stakeholders, and Regulator.
  • To make the point that ‘cable fault history’ is neither a valid measure of cable condition nor any indication of near term or future cable condition. The two are often read as one but the corroboration is slim. 
  • To observe that our Industry has simply not kept up with the widespread use of suitable technology to carry out such work and it is the role of such a perspective as this to assist the matter constructively, admittedly an interesting role for the consultant to take but one that is nonetheless delivered sincerely and genuinely.
Practical ‘near 50Hz PD’ offline diagnostic test set

By Trevor Lord - Director, LORD Consulting