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Fault Level Assessment Tool Future Proofs Electricity North West”s Grid & Secure Power Supply

Part of Ofgem supported ‘respond project’, the fault level assessment tool will protect the network and increase support for local low carbon generation

Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management, has announced a project to deliver a Fault Level Assessment Tool to Electricity North West, as part of its £5.5 million Respond project. The tool, which will be installed in Electricity North West’s control room, will help Electricity North West future proof its grid and secure power supply for more than 5 million people in the North West of England.

The Fault Level Assessment Tool from Schneider will deliver an intelligent approach to managing fault level – the potential maximum amount of fault current that flows when a fault occurs. When fault level approaches or rises above equipment fault level ratings, the Fault Level Assessment Tool will actively manage fault currents by instructing one of three fault level mitigation techniques known as Adaptive Protection, the IS-limiter and the Fault Current Limiting service. This will help increase capacity on electricity networks, minimise disruption and lower costs for customers.

Intermittent energy sources and anticipated growth in peak electricity demand, is fuelling an increase in network fault level. When fault level goes above the capability of existing circuit breakers, our substations and energy infrastructure are placed in real danger, unless actively managed.

“Britain’s existing energy infrastructure is not designed to deal with elevated levels of fault current, caused by the evolving networks, but upgrading substations to increase capacity could cost GB up to £156 million over the next eight years. As part of the Respond project, our Fault Level Assessment Tool will help distribution network operators (DNOs) to manage the increased fault level with the infrastructure already in place,” commented Barrie Cressey, Smart Grid Director at Schneider Electric.

The Fault Level Assessment Tool from Schneider Electric will use a real-time topological model, able to process complex network conditions and predictively adapt the network for anticipated faults. Historically protection settings and trip-levels were fixed at the time of network design and rarely varied. The Fault Level Assessment Tool will supply information to Electricity North West’s network management system to dynamically react to changing conditions to maximise network efficiency, especially under fault conditions.

Andy Howard, the Respond Project Manager at Electricity North West commented: “It’s vitally important that we prepare our network for the challenges to come and the Respond trial will be critical for Britain’s low carbon future. The Fault Level Assessment Tool will ready our network to face the challenges of the future, protecting our customers, our infrastructure and our business. The ability to actively and dynamically manage peaks in energy generation and demand lays the groundwork for a host of new possibilities when it comes to how we work with our customers. We’re excited to see how this predictive capability can improve our service.”

“Some days renewable power provides 20 per cent of our energy mix, but the next day can drop to next to nothing. As our networks become more complex, peak demand increases, and more renewable sources are introduced, the ability to dynamically adapt network configurations for efficiency and protection is crucial,” commented Barrie Cressey, Smart Grid Director at Schneider Electric. “As a partner, not just a supplier, in this project, we’re immensely excited to explore new methods of improving distribution networks and enabling Britain to fully exploit the potential of renewable power. More intelligent use of the resources at our disposal is a crucial factor in the decarbonisation of our electricity industry.”

The Respond project is funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund and runs from January 2015 until October 2018, at which point the findings will be published.

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