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Northern Powerhouse European Union

Participants needed for innovative electricity network project

Businesses operating large generators or motors in the North West are being encouraged to join an innovative pilot project to manage network faults in return for financial rewards.

Businesses operating large generators or motors in the North West are being encouraged to join an innovative pilot project to manage network faults in return for financial rewards.

As part of its Respond project, Electricity North West is developing a Fault Current Limiting (FCL) service which offers financial incentives to companies willing to switch off large electrical motors and generators for short periods when a network fault occurs.

In the event of a network fault, all sources of electricity generation connected to the network contribute to an instantaneous surge of energy, known as 'fault current'.

Network operators like Electricity North West have protection equipment in place to safeguard against the damage that can be caused by fault current. However, the increasing demand for electricity in the UK will inevitably cause an increase in fault current, potentially meaning that equipment needs to be replaced – a disruptive, lengthy and expensive process.

Managing faults

Network operators therefore need to develop smarter and more efficient ways of managing electricity networks to help keep costs down for customers and maximise the electrical efficiency.

Through the FCL service, Electricity North West will pay suitable industrial and commercial customers in return for remotely switching off large motors and generators for short periods of time when a network fault occurs.

This will temporarily stop the customers’ equipment from contributing to the fault current, enabling Electricity North West to manage fault level at much lower cost. 

The technology is therefore different to standard demand-side response solutions, which instead focus on balancing peaks and troughs in demand for electricity. 

Eligibility criteria

The twelve month pilot opportunity is available to organisations which operate large rotating machinery with generation or consumption capacity of 500kW or over, such as large combined heat and power (CHP) plants. The remote response is expected to occur no more than once or twice during the trial period.

The pilot is one of a number of network solutions being delivered by the Respond project in collaboration with a range of industry partners, including United Utilities, the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and Manchester-based CHP specialists, ENER-G.

For more information about the project, click here.