In 2020, several UK power asset management companies paid a sum of £10.5 million, due to failings that led to a power cut affecting over a million people in 2019. Although the cause of the initial fault was stated by UK energy regulator, Ofgem, to be “an extremely rare and unexpected event” caused by a lightning strike, it highlights the impact of asset failure in power networks.Maintaining network availability depends upon correctly functioning assets. An operator must be certain that every asset – from those involved in generation (such as wind turbines or photovoltaic panels) to distribution assets, like transformers, circuit breakers and power lines – is in good working order, with a low probability of failure (PoF).Risky businessHowever, asset risk in an electrical network is no simple process. Electrical assets experience a broad range of time-based, utilisation or random failures. These each produce distinctly different failure modes, such as an electrical flashover or a failure of a circuit to trip. There is also the fact that assets are neither uniformly complex nor equally accessible. A power transmission line has far fewer components than a transformer, and both have fewer components – and are much easier to access – than an offshore wind turbine. The more complex the asset, the greater the potential for failure.
Read the full article in PBSI's January issue
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