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Post: Iberdrola Underground Cable Monitoring Startup Challenge



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Renewables and energy industry leader Iberdrola is back for another startup challenge! This time, Iberdrola seeks innovative ways to monitor underground cables across its vast electricity network. The Iberdrola Underground Cable Monitoring Startup Challenge invites startups and emerging companies to apply and offers exciting benefits for the winner(s).

Iberdrola operates more than 400,000 Transformer Centers (TCs) in the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Spain. The TCs house more than 1.5 million medium-to-low voltage distribution transformers, built and operated to provide a high quality and reliable service to 31 million electricity supply points.

Iberdrola commonly deploys cables at both the transmission level (from 132kV and above) and distribution (66kV, 33kV, 11kV & 400V) to meet the expectations of its communities, minimize virtual impacts, and reduce time spent to connect its customers and renewable resources.

Addressing the Challenge of Monitoring Underground Power Cables

However, the cables were commissioned over the past several decades, from different suppliers and different types to support the gradual development of their electricity networks. Most of the distribution cables did not have any condition monitoring facilities when they were constructed. Considering that cables often join at different lengths, those cable joints are the weakest points along the whole route.

Iberdrola encourages and welcomes any approach from other sectors (such as oil & gas, telecom, or military). This topic is getting more and more attention from the industry, increasing steadily for a while now. The challenge is launched within the new Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub framework. Iberdrola will make the Hub a worldwide grid benchmark, through open collaboration and co-working between i-DE technicians, suppliers, startups, and different organizations worldwide.

Looking Beyond Partial Discharge-based Monitoring for Underground Cables

Through this challenge, Iberdrola aims to enable proactive asset management and reduce the impact of incidents on supply and on their customers. So far, the most common condition monitoring system is based on Partial Discharge (PD). Anticipating most of the correspondences might be based on PD, it might be useful to check the lessons learned by Iberdrola with this approach already:

  • While PD is a proven technology, applying it to Iberdrola’s cable network is a difficult task.
  • The most accurate cable PD results usually use offline testing to obtain data – however, this requires an outage. This is too expensive for Iberdrola to implement.
  • Online PD monitoring is an alternative and Iberdrola conducted BAU trials in SPM – however, the conclusions were that the distribution networks are too vast and also feature multiple, varied loads that create noise on the waveforms.
  • Without the possibility of burying new optical fibers along with the existing cables, how to bring the signal from underground?

In this context, Iberdrola, through its PERSEO Startups Program, is looking for solutions that enable the early detection of incidents in underground cables (with particular attention on cable joints) through advanced and non-intrusive condition monitoring approaches.

Iberdrola Monitoring Underground Cables Startup Challenge: Timeline & Important Dates

The application period for this challenge closes on 28th July 2023hurry, apply today!

A team of experts from Iberdrola’s Networks business will be responsible for selecting the solution or innovative solutions that enable the early identification of incidents at transformer centers.

  • Application Evaluations: August 2023
  • Winner(s) Announcement: September 2023
  • The Pilot Project will begin later in 2023

Why Join the Iberdrola Underground Cables Monitoring Startup Challenge?

The winner of this startup challenge will receive the following benefits:

  • Collaboration Agreement & Pilot Test: The prize for the winner consists of a collaboration and test agreement with PERSEO or any other Iberdrola group company. The group will support the cost of the pilot activities.
  • Access-all-Areas: Iberdrola will provide the winner with all necessary technical support and a site and real data to test the solution. This includes access to equipment, teams, infrastructure, high-technology sites, and shared work areas.
  • Scale Your Technology: If the pilot test is satisfactory, Iberdrola may offer the winner the opportunity to scale up the solution by adapting it through commercial agreements.
  • Potential Investment: What’s more, PERSEO will consider investing in the participating company and/or the winner of the challenge.

Your solution will also be included directly in the Global Smart Grids Innovation Hubs registration process, as a collaborator and able to benefit from the services, activities, and resources that the GSGI Hub makes available.

Scale Your Innovative Underground Cables Monitoring Solution with Iberdrola

Iberdrola is no stranger to working with startups and emerging companies – over the last two years, the Group has launched over 22 innovation challenges to address pressing issues in today’s energy networks.

Iberdrola’s startup program – PERSEO – aims to facilitate the group’s access to the technologies of the future while fostering the development of a global ecosystem of startups in the electricity sector with a focus on sustainability. Iberdrola has € 200 million for this purpose, invested through its portfolio of investments in startups, its PERSEO Venture Builder unit, pilot projects, the launch of the Iberdrola Startup Challenge, and the Andromeda fund for investments in sustainable technologies.

Ready to develop your innovative monitoring solution with the Iberdrola Monitoring Underground Cables Challenge? Click here to apply!



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Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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