FiN - "Fühler im Netz" (Sensors in the Grid)

Utilising Broadband over Power Line technology for grid monitoring

Project state
Logo Fühler im Netz

Future electricity grids will feature a large number of decentralised systems feeding electricity produced from renewable energy sources into the local distribution grid. Owing to their fluctuating character in accordance with the weather and time of day, photovoltaic systems and wind turbines can, however, negatively affect the grid stability and endanger the security of supply. It is therefore important to constantly monitor and record the grid status. In order to also ensure the supply security and grid stability usual in Germany in the future, the detailed recording of the grid status will play an important role. Only in this way will it be possible for those responsible to detect plant and grid faults at an early stage and take corrective action.

In order to address this problem, the FiN project is intending to investigate new and cost-effective ways of recording the grid status and detecting faults, whereby the project will focus on the use of Broadband over Power Line (BPL) technology. Broadband over Power Line technology is used for communicatively linking different applications in the electricity grid. A classic field of application is, for example, the communication between customers and utility companies. For example, a smart meter can send the customer’s power consumption directly to the power supply company.

Recording grid conditions with Broadband over Power Line technology

Infografik zu Fühler im Netz
Bei „Fühler im Netz“ wird der Netzzustand zweifach erfasst: mit der BPL-Datenübertragung (Ebene A) und einfacher Messsensorik im Nieder- und Mittelspannungsbereich (Ebene B)
Quelle: PPC AG

In diverse BPL grids, the increasing infeed of decentralised energies has opened up a second use for this means of communication via the electricity grid. This is because the state of the electricity grid, the grid operating status and fault events have a visible effect on the transmission characteristics of the BPL communication. In the project, the project partners are now investigating how the BPL channel characteristics can enable them to draw general conclusions about possible faults and the overall condition of the electricity grids. The Broadband over Power Line infrastructure already contains a considerable amount of grid data that can provide information about the grid status and possible faults – without having to rely on additional detection technology. So far, however, no one has systematically studied this aspect.

In the FiN project, the engineers now want to verify the extent to which they can generate reliable information during the grid operation and when recording status data based on the BPL channel characteristics. In addition, they are also examining the extent to which they can efficiently collect additional measurement data by installing simple and cost-effective measurement sensors in the Broadband over Power Line grid. Together with the analysis of the BPL channel characteristics, they then want to generate sufficient status and operational information in order to be able to conclusively assess the grid status.

More information on Broadband over Power Line (BPL) technology

How BPL functions | © PPC AG

Smart metering and smart grids can only function with a powerful communications platform. It must be able to transport all important energy data – in real-time, IP-based, securely encrypted, as broadband and more. These requirements are met by Broadband over Power Line technology (BPL technology). BPL uses the electricity grid for data transmission and thus provides an optimal communication technology for energy supply companies. Broadband over Power Line technology can close the existing communication gaps in the grid in the medium- and low-voltage grids as well as between energy suppliers, their customers and the technical systems. Here the technology uses proven standards from the telecommunications industry including broadband, the TCP/IP protocol and the Ethernet. In addition, it also ensures encrypted data transmission, data protection and data security.

Demonstration rig following theoretical investigations

For this purpose, the project partners are carrying out research, investigations and analyses as part of the initial work packages.They will then test the findings in terms of their practicality using laboratory experiments as well as a demonstration rig and field trials. The results will then undergo technical and economic assessment. Based on this, the scientists then want to develop guidelines.

In addition to Power Plus Communications AG as the consortium leader, the University of Wuppertal, Energieversorgung Leverkusen GmbH & Co. KG, Nexans Power Accessories Germany GmbH and Nexans S.A. France are involved in the "Sensors in the Grid" project (as associate partners).

Project partners and their tasks

Treffen der Verbundpartner von Fühler im Netz
The project partners at the successful kick-off meeting in Wuppertal. In addition to Power Plus Communications AG as the consortium leader, the project team includes the University of Wuppertal, Energieversorgung Leverkusen GmbH & Co. KG, Nexans Power Accessories Germany and Nexans S.A. France.
  • Power Plus Communications AG – Coordinator, principles for BPL signal transmission and use, evaluation of operating data for various projects, correlation analysis and algorithms, methodology and software development, integration of additional measuring sensors
  • University of Wuppertal, Chair for Electrical Energy Supply – Definition of critical grid conditions, use of dynamic BPL channel properties for analysing the condition of cables and sleeves, laboratory tests for detecting ageing on cables and sleeves, deriving forecasts of possible faults
  • Nexans Power Accessories Germany GmbH – Components for medium-voltage applications, integration of sensors (current, voltage) in Powerline couplers or their combination with medium-voltage equipment, correlation between the electrical parameters (U; I) and the transmission/impedance or interference level with the BPL communication, examining the ability of the distribution grids for correlating BPL with grid condition analyses, whereby this will draw on Nexans S.A.’s worldwide experience
  • Energieversorgung Leverkusen GmbH & Co. KG – Requirement profiles for condition assessment, evaluation of BPL during construction work (before/after), BPL operators in the low- and medium-voltage grid, test environment for prototypes and field testing
  • Nexans S.A – Distribution grids, cable types/material and correlating BPL to the grid state analysis, state analysis/operation of cable grids, cable accessories for low and medium voltages, potential for international applications

Project duration

11/2014 – 10/2017


Christoph Raquet
Project manager
Power Plus Communications AG
Am Exerzierplatz 2
68167 Mannheim
+49 621 40165-137
+49 621 40165-111

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