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Nexans, a cable industry specialist, has supplied a superconducting fault current limiter to Applied Superconductor Limited (ASL) for a pilot installation in the UK.

ASL, a UK company based in Blyth, Northumberland, is currently installing and commissioning the component into a medium-voltage (11kV) substation in Lancashire, where it is intended to optimise the performance and safety of the local power network.

The pilot installation is due to provide a practical demonstration of the benefits provided by these specific limiters.

As a result of their almost instantaneous response to fault currents, they are said to be able to prevent overload of switchgear and other network components that can occur during short circuits.

They are also claimed to be able to, in the end, help avoid blackouts.

As a consequence, they are expected to play an increasing role in meshed networks, the connection of renewable generation and future Smart Grids.

Dr Joachim Bock, managing director of Nexans’s Superconductors unit, said: ‘The threshold of superconducting fault current limiter commercialisation is being crossed with this project.

‘Further limiters for medium-voltage applications and with varying specifications are in production.

‘Adapting them to specific customer needs, such as to protect power plant auxiliary networks, can easily be achieved, thanks to the modular nature of the device.

‘With this product, we have progressed up the value chain from material via component to system, to provide our customers with the optimum solution,’ he added.

The limiter supplied to ASL was produced by Nexans Superconductors, which also designed and assembled the complete system including the cryostat.

The current limiter was successfully subjected to high-voltage trials and to a full series of short-circuit tests witnessed by ASL.

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