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By Ben Ingham on

Inspect a gadget

Ben Ingham, from power network operator Electricity North West, shares the key innovative kit that keeps power flowing.

Not only is Electricity North West sponsoring this year’s Manchester Science Festival, we’re also exhibiting at it.

We’ve worked closely with the Science and Industry Museum to create a display for its headline exhibition Electricity: The Spark of Life, which is running from 18 October 2018 to 28 April 2019.

As well as an incredible insight into how power flows around the region through our vast network of overhead lines and underground cables, visitors to the exhibition will get a sneaky peek at one of the groundbreaking new gadgets we’re using to help keep power on for our customers—making sure you have the right amount of energy to boil your kettle and watch your favourite boxsets.

In day-to-day life, the electricity system plays a consistent, unfluctuating role, powering the same things in the same way. However, behind the scenes electricity generation is a constant balancing act to keep the grid stable. Because electricity can’t be stored easily in large volumes it has to be generated and delivered exactly when it’s needed.

During the exhibition we’re putting a ‘Weezap’ device on display. The Weezap is a low voltage circuit breaker which replaces the traditional fuse used to protect our low voltage networks.

Like a fuse in any household appliance, we use fuses on the power network so that if there’s a fault, they cut power for safety without damaging our equipment. It causes a  power cut but no long-term damage. But it means that when it happens, we have to send an engineer to site to restore power.

A Weezap however, can automatically restore power without the need for an engineer to attend, meaning you get power back on more quickly. The device also provides information back to our central control room on the power flows on our network, alerting us to more serious issues much faster.

As we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, our customers will start to use more low carbon technologies such as electric vehicles, solar panels and heat pumps. These technologies tend to occur in clusters, which can have a dramatic effect on the electricity network. While electric vehicles and heat pumps could cause voltage to fall, new generation from solar panels exporting electricity to the network can cause voltage to rise—making the balancing act even more critical.

At Electricity North West we are preparing for this dramatic change in the way we use the power network by maximising the use of our existing network and combining new technology and creative thinking to provide real solutions to real problems.

The Weezap is just one of the innovative techniques we use every day to respond to the evolving way we use power in an increasingly changing energy future.

 

 

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