UK’s SP Energy Networks trials new real-time fault detection system


UK distribution and transmission network operator SP Energy Networks is testing a new real-time fault detection system that can measure fault levels and enable the addition of more battery energy storage to offset potential power-losses.

Real-Time Fault Level Monitors are being trialled in substations in Liverpool, Chester and Warrington as part of a £140,000 project in partnership with Outram Research.

The news follows the announcement of what fellow UK network operator UK Power Networks called the “world’s fastest” fault detection system just days ago.

According to the company, a 20-second reading could eliminate the need for time-consuming and expensive replacement of switchgear at substations by detecting faults prior to the fault level being exceeded, whilst enabling the connection of additional grid connections at a much lower cost.

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The physical technology is matched with software that negates any severe risk of additional power flowing into a short circuit caused by the connection of additional generation sources and energy storage in high fault level sections of distribution networks.

The network operator says it expects as much as £5 million a year in savings, as well as wasted man-hours and engineering labor costs.

 Scott Mathieson, Network Planning and Regulation Director at SP Energy Networks said: “This technology is a gamechanger. In 20 seconds, we can see the exact, real-time short circuit capacity of our electricity network and work out how to fix any problems.

“I’m proud that SP Energy Networks is leading the industry by supporting the development of this technology and running the first-ever trial. The potential benefits for our customers are massive – improved resilience of the network, faster renewables connections, reduced costs and a more efficient network.”

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