Nexans commissions in Germany the world’s first superconducting fault current limiter to protect a power plant’s internal power supply

Utility company Vattenfall anticipates that pilot project at the Boxberg brown coal plant will help to increase personnel and plant safety

SFCL_VattenfalParis, November 6, 2009 – Nexans, the worldwide leader in the cable industry, has just commissioned the world’s first Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SFCL) that is installed in a power plant. In this pilot project for Vattenfall Europe Generation AG, the SFCL will provide short-circuit protection for the internal medium voltage power supply that feeds coal mills and crushers in the Boxberg brown coal power plant in Saxony, Germany.

Thanks to their almost instantaneous response to fault currents, SFCLs prevent the damaging overloading of switchgear and other power network components that can occur during short-circuits. Vattenfall´s experts anticipate that this innovative technology will offer significant benefits in personnel and plant safety and they are keen to gain practical experience on SFCL in collaboration with Nexans.

When short-circuits occur, a SFCL can limit the current so quickly and effectively that the risk is significantly reduced,” states Dr. Thomas Krüger, project manager at Vattenfall. “It could also help cut costs significantly by reducing the need to oversize substation equipment and cables to withstand even the most extreme short-circuit currents. That’s why power plant operators have taken such a strong interest in SFCL technology, since they both improve safety and cut overall investment costs”.

This is the second complete SFCL system that Nexans has supplied, and the first time that this type of device has ever been used in a power plant, which is a highly challenging environment from a technological point of view,” says Dr. Joachim Bock, CEO of Nexans SuperConductors. “It is particularly important for us that the systems are being implemented without public grants, which is also unprecedented on the world stage”.

Live testing of the SFCL in a 12 kV power supply

Vattenfall’s SFCL, based on Nexans´ HTS (high temperature superconductor) technology and designed for a rated current of 800 A, is undergoing live testing by daily routine operation in a feeder bar of the 12 kV power supply for rebound hammer mills (used for crushing coal).

For the SFCL used in Boxberg, Nexans SuperConductors designed and built the device according to the specifications from Vattenfall and the Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus (Germany), which is providing scientific support for this project. The device can limit a 63 kA prospective short circuit current to less than 30 kA immediately and to about 7 kA after 10 milliseconds.

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