The British network operator Western Power Distribution is testing the EDGE-FCLi fault current limiting device.
EDGE-FCLi with a response time of less than 200µs – about 1000 times faster than conventional mechanical methods – is expected to have the potential to play a key role in increasing the connections of distributed energy resources and two-way flows in the network.
By stopping the rapid flow of current when a fault occurs, the device will reduce the risk of high electrical currents that can damage the equipment and cause a power outage.
The device, which was developed in partnership with Israeli current limiting specialist GridON, is installed on the campus of the University of Warwick, where high currents are generated by a combined heat and power generator.
Dan Hardman, an innovative network engineer who oversees the WPD project, says that while this is not the first error limiter, it is one of the first power electronic error limiters in the UK.
“We are getting more and more distributed production connected to the network. “If you continue to increase the amount of generation, the current flowing in the event of a fault can exceed the mains rating, causing equipment damage and ultimately affecting the power supply,” he said.
“If there is a fault, this device can detect the fault with smart electronics and open to break the circuit. It acts very quickly to turn off the fault current. We are testing these features of the device now in our experience to see if they are successful or not.
The utility says that in order to allow a scalable and long-term path for new distributed connections, the contribution of the fault current from the new generators must be reduced to almost zero.
Some generation sources, such as inverter-based solar sources, contribute to low fault current, but synchronous ones, such as combined heat and power, contribute to significant fault current.
The experiment will last at least a year and, if successful, the technology could potentially be used elsewhere in the network.