Market & SFCL Overview

Market Overview

Electricity market liberalisation in the late 1980’s had a great impact on the nature of the UK Electricity Supply Industry (ESI). This, along with technological advances and increased environmental concerns, has fuelled interest in low-capital, small scale, low pollution technologies.
The UK Government & the EU have set several energy related targets that reflect environmental issues. This has resulted with the UK’s commitment to generate 15% of its energy needs from renewable sources, mainly offshore and onshore wind farms.
As UK networks shift from large centralized generation to more distributed means such as wind farms, the networks need to adapt to the changing load profile.
SFCL solutions
Some operators are faced with the problem of making large investments to upgrade their networks or completely replace substations to keep up with changes to the network – the Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SFCL) offers a potential solution to defer or even eradicate the need for this large expense.
SFCL summary
Nexans can now offer a Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SFCL). This is now a fully developed, commercially available system for medium voltage networks.
Until now, the need for protection against high fault currents in the network required large expensive protective devices using lots of copper components. By using the SCFL, networks can be operated at their optimum loading without risk of damage through faults.
SFCL Application
During normal operation, the unit remains invisible to the network, relying on the zero resistance of the superconductive material. However, if there is a large sudden increase in the current, the device becomes resistive and limits the fault current to a value which can be safely handled by the existing equipment.
The change in the physical state of the material is so quick that it already limits the first peak of the short circuit current (the first peak is responsible for mechanical damage coming from the magnetic field created by the fault cuurrent). The device works without any electronic trigger function, just usingthe physical phenomena of superconductivity and is therefore automatic and wear free. When the fault clears, the SFCL will go back to its original state, zero resistance.
Potential applications for the SFCL include busbar couplers between two neighbouring MV grids, and the protection of large industrial plants where the fault current can reach extremely high values.
Additional Information
The SFCL has been successfully trialled on a number of installations, including some on UK networks. Please refer to the documents below for more information.  
The SFCL was developed by Nexans Superconductors, based in Hürth, Germany.

Related Document

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