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Western Power Distribution (WPD) is future-proofing the power distribution network in Birmingham by installing two Nexans superconducting fault current limiters.
The order covers the design, fabrication, and permanent installation of the devices, including the associated switchgear, and has a total value of approximately € 2.6 million. Installation of the technology in Birmingham's network is part of the FlexDGrid project, which aims at future proofing existing networks to accept more electricity generated from sustainable resources. The new equipment helps achieve this objective by enabling higher power feed-in from distributed or renewable electricity sources. The heart of the fault current limiters consists of superconductor tapes cooled to a working temperature of approximately -195°C by liquid nitrogen. Under normal conditions these tapes allow current to flow unhindered and with virtually zero resistance. If the current rises above a critical level, then within a few milliseconds the superconductor tape changes into a normal conductor with extremely high electrical resistance. In this state only a small residual current flows through the limiter. The two Nexans limiters - for the Chester Street and Bournville substations in Birmingham - are designed to operate at a voltage of 11 kV with a nominal current of 1,600 A (Chester Street) and 1,050 A (Bournville).
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