NxtPhase T&D Corporation has announced that Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) will contribute $986,000 toward the development of a family of optical voltage and current sensors for use on high-voltage electric power grids.
NxtPhase will develop and demonstrate a class of environmentally friendly, safe, reliable, and cost-effective optical sensors for the electric power industry. NxtPhase optical sensors use fiber optics for measuring current and/or voltage, eliminating the need for insulating oil and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) gas currently used by traditional instrument transformers. SF6 is a greenhouse gas 22,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
“SDTC’s funding of this project will help validate NxtPhase’s environmentally friendly optical sensing technology as an economically viable solution in comparison with conventional instrument transformers,” said Dan Jennings, vice president of finance at NxtPhase T&D Corporation. “Providing cost-competitive optical sensors will encourage faster adoption by electric power utilities and create a significant positive impact on the environment.”
“As Canada's electric grid is upgraded to enhance both capacity and its ability to accommodate more renewable electricity, there is a great opportunity to introduce environmentally friendly components to the infrastructure,” said Vicky J. Sharpe, president and CEO, SDTC. “NxtPhase’s optical voltage and current sensors will allow suppliers to phase out the use of the highly potent greenhouse gas sulfur hexafluoride.”
The total value of the project is $3 million. It is leveraged by investments from other sources, including consortium members Powertech Labs, a wholly owned subsidiary of BC Hydro and the British Columbia Transmission Corporation (BCTC), the crown corporation responsible for the planning, operation, and maintenance of BC’s publicly-owned electrical transmission system.
"The collaboration with NxtPhase furthers BCTC’s goal of building a more reliable, sustainable, and efficient electricity grid," said Jim Gurney, BCTC’s manager of research and development. “NxtPhase optical sensors are helping to transform substation control and monitoring for improved operation and asset management.”