11th July 2011
Two £4m projects have been launched by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) which will reduce the impact of faults on electricity distribution networks, helping the growth and increased flexibility of distribution systems, with more low carbon electricity generation installed in the distribution system.
They will also help minimise the costs of upgrading the UK’s electricity distribution network over the next 20 to 30 years.
Each project will develop and demonstrate a fault current limiter device, which will reduce the damaging currents resulting from network faults and increase electricity network reliability for the future.
The two projects, part of the ETI’s Energy Storage and Distribution Programme, will accelerate the development and demonstration of two of the most promising fault current limiter technologies from around the world.
Ambitious specifications have been set, which exceed the capability of devices currently being demonstrated and which meet the real needs of network operators. Once the devices have been built and independently tested, they will be demonstrated in service on the UK’s networks from 2013.
The ETI will assess the benefits of the two devices to understand the optimum deployment opportunities for each device to provide the maximum network benefit.
One project will design, develop and demonstrate a Pre-saturated Core Fault Current Limiter. It will be developed by GridON, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, manufactured by Wilson Transformer Company and will be installed at a UK Power Networks substation in Newhaven, East Sussex.
The other project will design, develop and demonstrate a Resistive Superconducting Fault Current Limiter. It will be developed by Applied Superconductor Ltd, based in Blyth, Northumberland, with technical input from Rolls-Royce, and will be installed on the network at a Western Power Distribution substation in Loughborough, Leicestershire.
E.ON will act as technical consultants on both projects.
Both devices will be demonstrated on the networks for two years.
Faults within electrical power systems are inevitable and can cause stresses on the distribution system equipment. The short-duration currents arising from these faults increase as more energy sources are connected to the UK distribution system.
Existing techniques to manage these fault currents are costly and can have a negative impact on the power quality, stability, reliability and security of supply. Fault current levels are therefore becoming a significant barrier to the installation of low-carbon and other distributed generation. Management of these fault levels is also a key enabler for the growth of smart distribution systems, offering improved operation, flexibility and efficiency.
The projects will address the range of technical applications for active fault current limiters in the UK and elsewhere.
ETI Chief Executive Dr David Clarke said: "Although we hear a lot about the importance of renewable energy sources to the UK’s future energy mix, the infrastructure that provides power and heat to people’s homes and businesses is also vital. These projects will deliver a radical new approach for fault current limiters which will be thoroughly demonstrated on live substations. Upgrading the UK electricity distribution network will cost tens of billions of pounds over the next 20-30 years and the devices we will test in these projects will help minimise these costs. They should provide reliable, low cost products that will benefit distribution network operators and suppliers of distributed generation equipment as well as consumers who will benefit from a more reliable electricity supply at a time when more energy is generated from renewable sources."
Yoram Valent, Chief Executive of GridON said: "This project has a game changing potential; the holy grail for utilities is a fault current limiter that requires practically no maintenance, no unproven technologies and instantaneous response. This would be the first time that such a device is put to the test within the context of a live network, in partnership with some of the world's largest and most advanced and versatile utilities. We are very proud to have been selected by the ETI for this project and we look forward to rapid implementation and successful results."
Herbert Piereder, CEO of Applied Superconductor, said: "This project constitutes an important strategic step in our corporate development. We have so far taken the lead in putting Fault Current Limiters onto distribution networks. We have demonstrated that Superconducting Fault Current Limiters will be a key component of the Smart Grid and have established market credibility for this novel solution through our early project success. Building on this experience and know how we will now develop the next generation Fault Current Limiter which promises superior performance, both technically and commercially."
Robert Ferris, Innovation & Development Manager for Western Power Distribution (WPD) said: "WPD is keen to demonstrate this exciting new technology in a real network environment. The use of Fault Current Limiter devices presents us with a great opportunity to enable the cost effective connection of more Distributed Generation on to our network, while allowing us to maximise the operation of our existing assets and further increase the network security for our customers."
The planned demonstration will be carefully controlled to allow us to safely evaluate the device’s capabilities and its operational requirements. If successful, this project will take us one step further towards delivering a low carbon future.
David Openshaw, Head of Future Networks for UK Power Networks, said: "This project forms an important part of our low carbon network innovation portfolio, through which we are trialling the technologies necessary to deliver the flexible distribution networks required in the future. Fault Current Limiters offer the prospect of greater network flexibility, which is particularly relevant to our urban networks such as those serving London. This is where we anticipate a much greater contribution from low carbon electricity generation as a direct result of London’s decentralised energy policy and ambitious carbon emission reduction targets."
The ETI is a public private partnership between six global industrial companies and the UK Government tasked with developing “mass scale” technologies that will help the UK meet its 2020 and 2050 energy targets. It is concerned with identifying affordable, sustainable and secure energy across heat, power, transport and the infrastructure that links them.
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Notes to Editors
- The Energy Technologies Institute is a UK based company formed from global industries and the UK Government. The ETI brings together projects and partnerships that create affordable, reliable, clean energy for heat, power, transport and associated infrastructure. For more information, please go to www.energytechnologies.co.uk
- The ETI’s six private sector members are BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell. The ETI’s public funds are received from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills through the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The ETI will accelerate the deployment of affordable, secure low-carbon energy systems from 2020 to 2050 by demonstrating technologies, developing knowledge, skills and supply-chains and informing the development of regulation, standards and policy.
- GridON’s novel saturated core 3-phase fault current limiter is based on standard transformer technology. The device instantaneously turns itself into a very high impedance system upon current surges, and limits the current for as long as required to clear the fault. It recovers immediately thereafter and thus can protect from multiple faults occurring in immediate succession. In addition to the device fault current suppression ability, it facilitates current regulation and reactive power balancing.The roots of GridON’s technology are in the research and development conducted for the past eight years by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers with grounding in electrical engineering, mathematics, magnetism and superconductivity from Bar-Ilan University and Ricor. In bringing this groundbreaking, patent-pending technology to market, GridON entered a strategic partnership with long-established Wilson Transformer Company, a leader in transformer engineering and manufacturing, and one of GridON’s shareholders.The industry has recognized GridON’s innovative solution. GridON was the recipient of a coveted innovation award from GE‘s Ecomagination Powering the Grid Challenge, and was awarded the Smart Grid Award in the annual European ACES Academic Enterprise Awards. For further information, please visit www.gridon.com or contact pr@GridON.com / +972.3.711.1183
- Applied Superconductor was set up in the North East of England to commercialise Superconducting Fault Current Limiters. These are fitted to electric power distribution networks to provide protection against damage resulting from the inevitable current surges caused from time to time by short circuits. Applied Superconductor has successfully demonstrated the technical and commercial superiority of its products over conventional solutions. To provide a full and viable solution to customers the scope of their activities covers: Network engineering, component technology and systems integration.
- UK Power Networks provides power to a quarter of the UK’s population through its electricity distribution networks. They are responsible for delivering a safe, secure and sustainable power supply to eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East and East of England. The company, backed by strong ownership, aims to strengthen links with the local communities they serve, building on the skills base of the 5,500 people who work for them across the network including major bases in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Potters Bar, London, Crawley and Maidstone.
- Western Power Distribution (WPD) is responsible for delivering electricity to over seven-and-a-half million customers across the Midlands, South West England and Wales. Across these regions it employs 6,000 staff.
For further information please contact
ETI PR Manager Nigel Richardson on 01509 202084/07827 946064 or email email@example.com