Project

Digital monitoring of SCOF cables

Context

Maissaa Rharrab

Deputy IoT CoE

The SCOF Monitoring Project arose from the need to more efficiently address leaks coming from Elia’s underground self-contained oil-filled (SCOF) cables. Oil leaks from these cables were negatively impacting the surrounding environment and causing power outages.  

Traditionally, the pressure of oil in SCOF cables was monitored by Elia’s Asset Condition and Control (ACC) team. Manual checks of this oil pressure needed to be performed by the team on a regular basis – a process which was time consuming and did not allow the team to avoid or predict cable failure. 

Approach

In collaboration with the ACC team and three external partners, the Innovation team sought to provide a digital solution to the problem, which included the use of digital sensors, a communication gateway, antenna, deep penetration communication technology and an IoT platform. 

The Innovation team opted to use their own analytics platform – Panoptic – which was then connected to the existing ACC system, allowing the digital and remote monitoring of oil pressure in SCOF cables through sensors linked to 73 cables.  

This IoT platform allows staff to visualise and analyse trends in the pressure data picked up by the sensors, and can be accessed by staff on their laptops or mobile phones. These sensors also raise alarms in case possible incidents are detected. 

The Innovation team chose to use Panoptic so that any future IoT project developed at Elia Group could also use it, streamlining the Group’s tools and practices. 

Given its success, the practice is currently being rolled out for use across further SCOF cables in Belgium. The Digital and Data team, which has now taken up the project from the Innovation team, is currently exploring how the practice can be enhanced and scaled up. 

Moreover, Panoptic is part of the Innovation team’s work to build a common digital backbone for all IoT initiatives. The platform was specifically designed so that it could be used by different teams across the organisation. 

Results

The digital monitoring of SCOF cables has reduced the time, cost and danger associated with the manual monitoring of them. SCOF cables can now be monitored continuously, enabling the early detection and mitigation of oil leaks and protecting the environment. Moreover, the use of current assets is optimised, supporting the ongoing integration of renewable energy into the Belgian electricity grid.