Electricity distributor SP Energy Networks claims to have the world’s only technology that can measure in real-time the short circuit capacity (fault level) of the network, by using two prototype monitors. 

The prototype Real Time Fault Level Monitors helps SP Energy Networks actively manage its network by measuring and managing the fault level of electric power supply in real time. The trials are currently taking place in substations across Chester, Warrington and Liverpool.

More renewable energy devices and battery storage units could be connected to existing distribution grids thanks to the project.

A 20-second reading from the Real Time Fault Level Monitor could remove the need for expensive and time-consuming switchgear replacement in substations, which becomes necessary when the fault level is exceeded. This could save millions of pounds on repairs, hours of engineer labour and closed substations.

This technology is to be combined with Active Network Management software to automatically avoid excessive risk of additional power flowing into any short circuit, from the connection of additional generation and energy storage in already high fault level parts of distribution networks.

The technology will allow for greater visibility of the entire electrical network at any given time as well as the ability to accommodate more renewable generation sources as the UK shifts to more sustainable energy to support the race to net zero.

Scott Mathieson, network planning and regulation director at SP Energy Networks said: “This technology is a gamechanger. In 20-seconds we can see the exact, real-time short circuit capacity of our electricity network and work out how to fix any problems.

“The technology will enable new connections to be added to the network at a much lower cost. SP Energy Networks estimates that rolling out the tech across its electricity network could potentially save the industry £5 million per year, with more potential savings nationally too.”

SP Energy Networks has invested £140,000 to partner with Outram Research on this 12-month trial. Outram has been working for the last decade culminating in the Real Time Fault Level Monitor prototypes following SP Energy Networks approaching its research and development team in 2010.