IP over satellite provides the most reliable and cost-effective option to remotely monitor and control centralised reclosers in areas where terrestrial connectivity is unreliable. Inmarsat’s BGAN M2M service is used on tens of thousands of reclosers around the world and has been trusted as the industry standard by electricity providers for over ten years.

The service operates on Inmarsat’s L-band network. Created for government and emergency applications, it is as reliable as satellite gets, with up to 99.9% uptime in any continental location aside from the far poles, even in adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain, where other networks can often struggle. 

Customer challenge

Energy and a reliable electrical supply have never been more valuable. Electrical utility network operators are therefore under increasing pressure to maintain incredibly high levels of service, quality and availability, with failure to meet government mandated standards having the potential to attract significant fines.

To deliver the required reliability of service, distribution network operators (DNOs) are implementing increasingly smart grids, with critical grid management components monitored and controlled by supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks. Circuit reclosers are a key element of this service, sensing and interrupting current on a grid segment in the event of a fault.  While these devices can trip and reset independently, unconnected reclosers can often enter a lockout state once tripped, requiring an engineer response to reset them. Monitoring and controlling reclosers from a central SCADA system not only removes this risk, but it can also provide more data to a SCADA control room.

For a centralised reclosers approach, secure and reliable connectivity is critical. With many DNOs managing grids that span across wide territories, often traversing remote areas, cellular or other terrestrial options cannot always be relied upon.

The Smart Grid of Tomorrow

Extending the reliability, efficiency, and security of tomorrow’s smart grid: the role of satellite connectivity, addresses the next era of smart grid development and maps out the path to enabling and accelerating digitalisation across the utilities sector. 

Our solution

The solution is to use a satellite IP service that can meet the high levels of network availability required, either as primary or backup connectivity. By using the Hughes 9502 BGAN or the Cobham 540 BGAN, which provide cellular with satellite fall-back in one unit, DNOs can easily connect their reclosers to Inmarsat’s connectivity services using IP over the ELERA network. DNOs can count on this L-band satellite network with 99.9% availability, for secure, reliable connectivity 24/7.

DNOs using or introducing centralised reclosers into their network should consider the overall reliability and resilience of their connectivity infrastructure. Although it is likely terrestrial services will form the major communications backbone, this may be insufficient for operators covering more remote areas and can be unreliable in bad weather. Introducing Inmarsat satellite services utilising BGAN terminals and the ELERA network, will help DNOs achieve the continuity of service they require, as ELERA provides continuity of services through adverse weather conditions.

Implementing centralised reclosers with reliable connectivity delivers several benefits:

  • Enhanced operations management, including motoring and control from SCADA control room.
  • Removes risk and cost of sending field engineers to reset tripped reclosers:
    • Due to the risks associated with this type of activity, including working with high-power electrical components and operating at height, this is likely to require a minimum of two engineers, travelling to potentially remote sites.
    • No time lost on dispatching workforce to reset reclosers as this can be done remotely, immediately.
  • Enables utilities to remotely disable the automatic recloser function in dry seasons to avoid starting wildfires.
  • Enables DNOs to identify and limit the spread of faults, mitigating risk of serious operational impacts.

Solution features

  • Inmarsat’s small, low-power BGAN M2M terminal easily integrates with reclosers to provide reliable, uniform coverage, while its standard IP protocols allow for seamless and secure integration as part of an existing or expanding grid.
  • Centralised management capability at a low cost no matter how remote the location, provides power companies with remote control and recovery services for the grid.
  • Unparalleled reliability of both the L-band service and the hardware helps users avoid site visits or needing to change hardware in the field for decades at a time.
  • Easy maintenance: BGAN M2M offers remote management capabilities, including remote firmware updates and self-healing capabilities, which form a critical part of the service offering.

Our global partner network are expert in utilising BGAN M2M to build and support the right solution for your smart grid needs – no matter where you are located. Learn how we have helped customers including California utilities in the United States, Cemig in Brazil and Ergon Energy in Australia.

Related services and Solutions

Our portfolio of connectivity services and solutions offer unrivalled levels of choice, mobility and reliability. Whether you’re looking to share large quantities of data quickly or connect your IoT projects in remote regions, we’ve got you covered.