In the past two decades the power sector has steadily increased its investment in optical sensing technologies. At present, distributed fibre optic temperature sensing technologies are widely used by utilities to provide valuable operational ampacity data for safeguarding those critical assets. New advances in fibre optic sensing techniques are now offering better visibility of buried cable operation and earlier warning of cable degradation issues endemic in the underground cable environment.

This paper sets out how the power sector can capitalise on these advances after first considering the challenges and limitations of cable condition monitoring with existing technology.