Services & Solutions

Old But Not Obsolete

Bram Alkema Jun 22, 2021

Life extension of grid assets could save DSOs millions. How can this be achieved?

Electrical assets are capable of lasting for a very long time. An example of how long can be found at Fire Station No. 6 in Livermore, California in the United States – the home of the Livermore light bulb.

What makes the Livermore bulb so remarkable is that it has been burning more or less continuously since 1901 – a feat which has earned it a place in the record books (and its own webcam). Today, after 120 years of service, the Livermore light bulb is still going strong.

The secret of a (very) long life

The lifespan of Livermore bulb is clearly exceptional. But it underlines the durability of electrical assets – of all types. Grid assets are no exception. High voltage, medium voltage and low voltage cables, for example, are often capable of providing half a century of service – in some cases, even more.

One reason that electrical assets last so long is that there are very few moving parts. Switchgear aside, the only things that move in a power grid are electrons. Provided cables are well manufactured, well laid and kept within thermal norms, they will perform reliably for decades. Pylons, poles and transformers are also durable. Pylons, for example, have a lifespan of about 80 years.

The case for life extension

Finding ways to get more out of existing grid infrastructure is an area of increasing interest for DSOs. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, there is a need to optimise budgets. If grid assets are old, but in otherwise good shape, life extensions rather than replacements can save millions in capital spending.

Second, postponing asset replacements minimises disruption to customers and the public. Street excavations and other civil works – and the high costs that go with them – can be deferred.

Finally, life extensions are kinder to the environment. Demand for new assets, and the environmental impact of manufacturing them, is reduced.

One of the big challenges for DSOs in mature markets is that a high proportion of grid assets were installed at the same time in the boom years of the 1950s and 60s. To avoid a potential deluge of renewals, operators need easy ways to identify which assets should be prioritised for replacement and which can be kept going for longer. How can this be done?

Asset Electrical helps you to get the most out of your grid

To help DSOs make the best investment decisions, Nexans has developed Asset Electrical – a powerful strategic asset management solution that’s purpose-built for grid operators.

With Asset Electrical, you can easily formulate and fine tune strategies for maintenance, renewal and development project planning on your grid.

One of the key features of Asset Electrical is that it allows you to leverage on advanced asset ageing models to evaluate the condition and determine the appropriate operations (repairs, replacement) associated with the risk. It allows you to formulate strategies to extend the life of those assets so that they can go on delivering value for years to come. This is just one of the ways that Asset Electrical helps our customers to achieve savings of more than 10% of total expenditure and get up to 20% higher return on assets.

Could you boost your asset management? Find out here with our maturity assessment test!

About the author

Bram Alkema

Bram ALKEMA joined Nexans as the business developer for Asset Management Solutions.
Bram is a Leading Asset Management Professional for the Development, Implementation, Deployment and Application of (Asset) Management Systems, Decision Making Processes and Investment Portfolio Management compliant with ISO 55001. He has 25+ years’ experience as senior manager of operational, tactical and strategical departments at energy utilities in the Netherlands.

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