GCU and EDF Energy collaborate for safer, reliable power supply

8 February 2016
An EDF power station

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and EDF Energy are continuing their collaboration to enhance the safety and reliability of high-voltage equipment in power stations, through a new £116,000 research project.

Research conducted by GCU since 2011 has changed the way power cables and motors are monitored in EDF Energy’s power stations, providing innovative techniques which enable the identification of cable insulation defects and improvement of its maintenance programme.

The partnership has enabled the development of a portable cable-monitoring system for on-line detection of faults known as partial discharge (PD), allowing, through software analysis, testing to pinpoint the location of the fault. This research has helped EDF enhance practice in PD testing, reduce maintenance and repair costs by millions of pounds while continuing to reliably supply electrical power to the UK network.

Cable insulation resistance provides another, more general measure of insulation deterioration. However, this is currently carried out during off-line measurements. EDF’s off-line cable degradation is currently measured during planned shutdowns every three years. As it is recognised that cable insulation could be at risk of fault between these outages, an alternative strategy is required.

GCU and EDF Energy now aim to develop a new on-line insulation-resistance measurement technique to enable detection of any major reduction in insulation resistance of the cable circuit, identifying faults without shutting down the operational equipment. This would allow on-going monitoring of cable insulation wear and tear and prevention of more serious problems.

Funded by EDF, a full-time PhD research student will be recruited for three years, commencing in February 2016, to deliver the development of an on-line insulation resistance measurement technique. The project will be overseen by Professor Chengke Zhou and Dr Donald M Hepburn.