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SP Energy Trials Ground-Breaking ‘Fault Detection’ System

UK transmission and distribution network operator SP Energy Networks starts testing its world-leading technology for fault detection designed to measure real-time electrical surge levels and enable ways to offset potential losses of power such as the use of additional energy-storing batteries.

The firm tries out two Real-Time Fault Level Monitors in substations located at Chester, Warrington, and Liverpool, which are part of the £140,000 project in collaboration with Outram Research.

The prototype monitors can spot and measure real-time electrical levels and manage them, effectively preventing surges.

World-leading Fault Detection

The prototype Real Time Fault Level Monitors are designed by SP Energy Networks to be fast and efficient in spotting faults and reducing the risk for electrical surges. The £140,000 project claims to be the first technology in the world to provide real-time updates on the network’s energy levels.

The firm believes adding monitors could simplify the connection of additional components to the grid, such as new renewable sources. It claims the technology will likely save up to £5 million per year since it will eliminate the need to change switchgear at substations. It will also potentially reduce hours of labour, repairs, and closed substations.

The technology utilises software that will automatically reduce the risk of short circuits due to the flow of additional power brought about by connecting more energy storage and generation sources in areas of the distribution where there are high fault levels.

SP Energy Network’s implementation of the trials follows network operator UK Power Networks announcement a few days before, introducing a fault detection system alleged to be the ‘world’s fastest’.

Backing Net-zero

SP Energy Networks stated the 20-second reading would ease the burden of replacing switchgear, which can both be time-consuming and expensive to do but necessary in the face of a fault level excess.

The technology is designed to provide greater and more complete visibility of electrical networks at any given time. It will also enable the accommodation of additional renewable sources to support the UK’s shift to clean energy to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050.


SP Networks network planning and regulation director Scott Mathieson dubbed the industry-leading technology as a game-changer. He said the project monitors and determines the exact short circuit capacity of an electricity network in real-time, enabling operators to find solutions to address any issue quickly.

These developments will ultimately benefit customers, according to Mathieson. He pointed out the faster connection of renewables, enhanced network resilience, and reduced costs, leading to a more efficient network that serves to provide the energy supply of consumers.

Mathieson also expressed the network operator’s pride in leading the industry with its first trial of the new technology.

Support from Key Industry Players

Project partner Outram Research is happy to have stepped up to SP Energy Network’s first challenge in 2010 regarding Fault Level Management. Outram produced the monitors over the past decade in response to the network.

John Outram, Outram Research director, said the significant capability granted by the project is partly due to SP Energy’s enthusiasm and practical and theoretical support that nurtured the firm’s work.

Outram stated the company looks forward to the results of the trial and the many benefits it will deliver to customers and the electricity network.


For the software, Smarter Grid Solutions will fulfill the need with its ANM Element and ANM Strata, which will prevent the excessive risk of extra power turning into a short circuit due to adding new connections to an already high fault level section of the distribution network.

The UK will require new generation sources to be linked to the grid to be able to decarbonise by 2050 completely. According to the International Energy Association, renewable energy generation could increase by 50% within the next five years.

Heating and transport electrification are poised to follow suit, which will add to the need for higher generation capacity. The BNEF reports that electrifying these sectors can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60% between now and 2050, which would only be met when generation capacity is increased by 75%.

Networks look for additional methods of updating the grid to accommodate more renewables. For instance, the UKPN recently put up the world-leading circuit breaker that grants a new distributed generation of 460MW.