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Watt's in the News? - Volume 37

BTU Crew Newsletter Volume #29: Taking the pulse of High Voltage Transmission Lines Taking the Pulse of High Voltage Transmission Lines

Earlier this month we ended one of our stories with a look to future innovations in our country's electric grid. One new innovation is already making its presence known in Europe and may be starting to catch on in the United States. By attaching sensors to high voltage transmission lines, power utilities can determine the real-time temperature of the power line. With this knowledge, utility operators can increase the amount of power (electricity) flowing through the line.  

An individual sensor weighs around eight pounds and is about the size of a bowling ball. The sensors can be attached to high voltage transmission lines by drones, making it easy for power utilities to install. The sensors operate using electricity from the lines they are attached to. Once a sensor is installed and operational, it measures the temperature of the line and relays that information to the utility operators. This information tells the utility company how close each line is to maxing out on its power capacity.

Currently, utility companies set limits on the flow of electric power based on seasonal statistics from previous years. This new technology could allow for short term increases in power when needed without fear of overloading the electrical grid. These sensors can be thought of as speedometers that measure the speed of power moving through the high voltage transmission lines.

Installing sensors such as these may also be a money-saving option because they are cheaper than constructing new transmission lines. Helping to save money and time will certainly draw attention to this technology from grid operators across the United States. Getting more value out of the existing power grid by installing sensors seems like an easy solution to gain better control over where and when we increase power availability.  Look for this grid enhancing technology to soon be found on transmission lines across the country. It is new innovations like this that make our power grid more economical and reliable for all of us.

Tate Honaker

Meet Dan WhislerTrane Educator in Residence

Tate Honaker

Meet Bill NelsonTrane Educator in Residence

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