Ausgrid covered conductor trial begins in New South Wales

Aerial shot of covered conductor installed on 11kV powerlines (Ausgrid)
Image: Ausgrid

Network operator Ausgrid has installed lightweight covered conductor in the Sydney suburb of St Ives as part of a trial to increase reliability.

Amokabel, the Swedish specialist cable producer, has supplied the first lightweight covered conductor to New South Wales for the regional Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP), Ausgrid. The installation is part of a trial on an 11kV line in the Sydney suburb of St Ives, which aims to test the performance of the resilient covered conductor.

Related article: Amokabel acquires Euro-Tech Cables

The technology consists of conductive wire surrounded by an insulating jacket made of advanced lightweight insulation materials that improves reliability and adds minimal weight. This means that it can be restrung on existing poles to save the DNSP—and therefore the consumer—the cost of replacing infrastructure.

As an additional benefit, lightweight covered conductor can also help to reduce the risk of bushfire by 98.8% compared with bare wire. This is because, unlike bare wire, an overhead line using covered conductor doesn’t produce sparks when it contacts dry foliage or other objects.

Ausgrid’s goal for the trial is compare this new technology with its existing methods. Lightweight covered conductor is far more resilient than bare wire and significantly easier to install than older covered conductor technologies. It is highly resistant to dropped tree branches, a common cause of outages. The technology is also safer for people and wildlife. If the 11kV trial line is successful, Ausgrid will consider deploying a higher-rated version of the covered conductor for 33kV lines.

Ausgrid senior engineer of transmission engineering Rob Bradley says, “Our first installation of the new CCSX covered conductor system went well, installed quickly with no problems experienced and positive feedback from our field crews. We really appreciated Groundline/Amokabel’s assistance with field crew training and also practical support and guidance during the installation works.”

Related article: New Generation Covered Conductor: an economically viable solution for increased resilience, reliability and safety 

Amokabel Australia managing director Steve Rutland says, “Ausgrid is leading the way on improving network resilience and reliability for power consumers in New South Wales, providing an example for other DNSPs. Covered conductor offers a range of benefits in terms of resilience, reliability and safety, making it a clear choice for widespread deployment—especially with the effects of climate change having an increasing effect on our networks.”

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