The situation for our electrical grid has become increasingly volatile. Alternative energy sources like solar and wind energy continue to play larger roles in the energy sector, but this results in variations in the supply available as well as complexities in transmission and distribution. At the same time, the realization has set in that our electrical grids are susceptible to cyberattacks and other sabotage, which could be catastrophic without a secure network solution in place.
Energy companies have found this security in fiber optics. While the technology has certainly aided in the development of communication networks like cable television, the internet, and telecom, fiber optic cable is being increasingly utilized to provide the security and structure our electric grid needs. In addition, the technology’s capability to provide a diverse range of data in extreme environments is opening new doors for the energy industry.
Originally a military technology, fiber optics are now allowing the energy sector to become greener, more efficient, and more cost-effective than ever before. Replacing traditional copper wires with fiber optic cable allows a network to consume far less energy, leading to savings over the entire lifespan of the cable. They also last far longer, meaning the costs associated with installation and upkeep of a network are drastically cut.
Even beyond simple replacement savings, fiber optics are allowing energy companies to better use their existing infrastructure. In the oil and gas industry, for example, fiber optic cables are being used to find hidden oil in wells that have already been drilled. With the price per barrel of oil dropping while the cost of drilling a new well continues to rise, the abilities provided by fiber optics is a game changer.
This use of fiber optics is known as Thermally Enhanced Oil Recovery (TEOR) technology and can lengthen the production life of wells. The cables are up to thirty miles long and packed with sensors measuring everything from temperature to pressure and even sound waves. In the past, this was complicated by cables’ suffering in the harsh conditions below the earth’s surface. Fiberguide’s metalized fibers, however, can operate in temperatures up to 700 degrees Celsius. This means well operators can now access real-time information, allowing for not only safer and more efficient operations, but more productive ones as well.
Whether aiding in the generation of our energy, or ensuring that our grid is securely up and running, fiber optics has created a strong backbone for the energy industry. It not only provides constant data to solve issues before they become complicated problems, but it also allows the varied sources of energy to be smoothly integrated into the system on any scale. Companies like Fiberguide are consistently improving the available fiber optic technology, allowing for new avenues of innovation to impact our grid. To find out more about Fiberguide, visit us online today!
Author: Kevin Rauscher