SP Energy Networks and UK Power Networks demonstrate world’s first real-time fault level measurement system

UK Power Networks has now joined the project through the Energy Innovation Centre

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Electricity distributor SP Energy Networks has led the development of the world’s first real-time fault level measurement device, and according to a new independent report commissioned by the network operator and UK Power Networks, results are accurate to 1%.

The new device, developed by project partner Outram Research Limited, experts in electrical monitoring, measures the potential electrical current when a network fault occurs, ensuring the network is managed safely and efficiently. The new system can deliver accurate results in real-time, comparing to existing processes which can take several days to give an answer. Tests at the Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) on a section of network from SP Energy Networks’ patch showed less than 1% error at 11kV, far out-performing the 5% margin originally targeted by the industry.

UK Power Networks has now joined the project through the Energy Innovation Centre who manage collaboration in this latest project. As distribution network operator for London, the South East and East of England, UK Power Networks will play a key part in the roll-out of the devices nationally, with funding at this stage of the project totalling over £800,000 across all partners.

Thanks to the new system, the networks will potentially be able to safely connect higher volumes of renewable energy while spending less on upgrading network infrastructure. This supports the UK’s shift to more sustainable energy solutions in the push towards net zero.

This is a key milestone in the development of innovative fault level management systems and has come from a long-standing partnership between SP Energy Networks and Outram Research.

Scott Mathieson, Director of Network Planning and Regulation at SP Energy Networks, said: “We’ve always believed this technology will be a real gamechanger, so we’re pleased to have it validated by the PNDC. SP Energy Networks is leading the way by supporting the development of innovative solutions like this, which have the potential to revolutionise the industry in the future.

The real-time fault level monitoring technology will enable new connections, such as renewable energy generators, to be added to the network at a much lower cost – making this technology a key enabler for a just transition to Net Zero.”

SP Energy Networks estimates that rolling the technology out across its electricity network could potentially save £5 million per year, with more potential savings nationally too.

John Outram, Managing Director at Outram Research Ltd, said “We are pleased to have further, independent confirmation of the accuracy of the Fault Level Measurement algorithm used in all of our Fault Level Monitoring devices, both in the Real-Time units and those using natural disturbances to derive results. Less than 1% error for both Peak and RMS Fault Level results at 11kV is a real testament to the hard work involved but also to the high levels of support we have received from SP Energy Networks whilst achieving it.

Rob Greenoak, Innovation Programme Manager at UK Power Networks said:Collaboration is vital if the whole of the UK is to reach Net Zero by 2050. We’re looking forward to coming together with other key players in the industry with the common goal to enable more low carbon technologies to connect to the network. This new technology is facilitating Net Zero whilst improving reliability and efficiency of the network. “

SP Energy Networks owns and manages overhead and underground powerlines in Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales, North Shropshire and Central and Southern Scotland.

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