Powerco and Actility partner on LoRaWAN-enabled smart grid connectivity

New Zealand’s second-largest electricity and gas distribution utility Powerco is partnering with IoT solutions firm Actility to enhance connectivity on its grid network.

Actility is providing the utility with its LORAWAN-enabled ThingPark Enterprise IoT platform for rollout across its grid network. The rollout of the large-scale IoT network will start in June 2021 with the deployment of 200 gateways over a period of 24 months.

Moreover, IoT sensors will be installed on electricity assets such as power poles, lines and transformers. Each gateway can monitor hundreds of sensors, creating a comprehensive picture of the network.

The sensors will provide fault, performance and metering information, allowing to more easily detect and locate power outages, identify underperforming assets, and understand power demand. It also means sending field crews to remote locations for routine checks on equipment will no longer be necessary.

The project is expected to help Powerco to improve its customer services across the 28,000 kilometres of overhead lines and underground cables the utility owns.

Actility claims that the LoRaWAN open standard connectivity technology allows utilities to leverage its extremely long-range and low-power capabilities to cover thousands of kilometers of its electricity network at low cost, especially in remote areas which are challenging to reach and to install LoRaWAN devices providing data in real-time, while lasting for years on one battery charge.

Ian Skipworth, general manager of service delivery and systems pperations, said: “LoRaWAN will give us much more granular information about our network than we currently have. Our team will be able to see what’s happening pole-by-pole in real-time. That means we can respond quickly to what’s happening now, and plan more effectively for the future.”

Sourmack Darbouy, regional sales director at Actility, adds: “LoRaWAN gives the opportunity to utilities to create smart IoT applications that are flexible, scalable, easy to use while simplifying integration and deployment. For Powerco, reducing operational expenses and creating new efficiencies can now be achieved without heavy investment. It will provide a basis for other innovations to come.”