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ETI spends £8m on electricity distribution projects

Two new projects have been launched to help reduce the impact of faults in electricity distribution networks in the UK.

By Isabella Kaminski

The two £4 million projects by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) aim to help electricity distribution systems grow and become more flexible, as well as helping to 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 reduces damaging currents from distribution network faults. The two projects, part of the ETI’s Energy Storage and Distribution Programme, will speed up the development and demonstration of two of the most promising fault current limiter technologies from around the world.
According to the ETI, ambitious specifications have been set which exceed the capability of devices currently being demonstrated and which will 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 distribution networks from 2013 for two years.

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 group will design, develop and demonstrate a pre-saturated core fault current limiter. It will be developed by GridON, based in Israel, manufactured by Wilson Transformer Company and will be installed at a UK Power Networks substation in Newhaven, East Sussex.
The other project group will design, develop and demonstrate a resistive superconducting fault current limiter. It will be developed by Applied Superconductor, 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 consultant on both projects.
Dr David Clarke, ETI Chief Executive, says: “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.”

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