SP Energy Networks trials new tech to manage faults in real time

The Real Time Fault Level Monitors are currently being trialled in substations across Chester, Liverpool and Warrington as part of a £140,000 project

SP Energy Networks is testing new technology that can measure fault levels on the network in real time and enable the addition of more renewable energy and battery storage units.

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

The network operator says a 20-second reading could remove the need for expensive and time-consuming switchgear replacement in substations, which becomes necessary when the fault level is exceeded.

The technology is expected to enable new connections to be added to the network at a much lower cost.

SP Energy Networks estimates rolling it out across its electricity network could potentially help save around £5 million a year, in addition to hours of engineering labour and closed substations.

The technology is to be combined with a software to automatically avoid excessive risk of additional power flowing into any short circuit, from the connection of additional generation and energy storage in already high fault level parts of distribution networks.

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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