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UKPN installs 'world first' circuit breaker that could allow 460MW of extra distributed generation

Image: UKPN.

Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks (UKPN) has installed new technology it claims will help to facilitate greater deployment of low carbon technology.

The “world’s first” Power Electronic Fault Limiting Circuit Breaker has been installed at a substation in Tower Hamlets, London, as part of a £6.188 million project.

The technology is capable of detecting and protecting systems from a fault on the electricity network in four thousandths of a second, which UKPN says is 20 times faster than any existing circuit breaker.

The DNO is lauding the technology for making it both easier and cheaper to connect low carbon technologies such as wind, solar and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units to the grid.

Savings of up to £400 million could be driven by an additional 460MW of distributed generation the device could facilitate connecting to the network.

Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “Through innovative technology, we are making it easier for a generation of environmentally-friendly, cost-efficient energy.

"Lowering the cost of connecting smaller-scale energy generation like CHP is a key component in providing a low-carbon, secure and affordable future for London.”

The new devices are a quarter of the size and half the price of the current circuit breakers being used, and are reusable, unlike fuses which perform a similar function.

Trials will continue until 2021 to gather data on performance in different configurations. The project is part of the Network Innovation Competition.

UKPN's Loadshare trial also saw new technology installed to allow more renewables to connect, freeing up 95MW. Additionally, £15 million was invested in what UKPN claims to be the world's most advanced network control system in 2019.

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