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Evaluating the impact of superconducting fault current limiters on distribution network protection schemes

Kincaid, Jennifer and Abdulhadi, Ibrahim and Emhemed, Abdullah and Burt, Graeme M (2011) Evaluating the impact of superconducting fault current limiters on distribution network protection schemes. In: Proceedings of the 2011 46th International Universities' Power Engineering Conference (UPEC). IEEE, New York. ISBN 9783800734023

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Abstract

Rising fault levels are becoming increasingly problematic in the UK distribution network, with large sections of the network operating near to its designed fault level capability. With the increase in penetration of distributed generation that is expected in the coming years, this situation is becoming more pressing. Traditional methods of dealing with the issue may not be appropriate - upgrading plant is expensive and disruptive, while network reconfiguration can compromise security of supply. Superconducting Fault Current Limiters (SFCLs) are emerging as a potential solution, with installations now taking place in several locations worldwide. The integration of an SFCL into a network involves a number of challenges, particularly concerning the coordination of protection systems. The operation of existing protection schemes may be compromised due to the increased resistance in the network during a fault (in the case of a resistive SFCL). Furthermore, the reduction in fault levels, although desirable, can have a detrimental impact on protection operating times. This paper will consider an existing medium voltage network in the UK, which incorporates distributed generation capacity. The performance of IDMT overcurrent and distance protection schemes will be examined when an SFCL is installed in this network. In particular, the increased operating time of overcurrent relays will be discussed along with grading implications. The impact on distance protection reach will also be examined. A variety of network operational scenarios including SFCL placement and fault conditions will be considered and compared. Recommendations will be made in terms of protection settings and SFCL placement in order to mitigate the aforementioned issues.