Measuring lightning to further the energy transition


Measuring lightning to further the energy transition

The FutureEnergy Project (19ENG02) has come to a close. FutureEnergy was a fruitful collaboration between metrology institutes and organisations in eight European countries and was set up to support the future-proof development of energy transmission networks. The challenge: developing new methods and hardware to extend the traceable measurements for ultra-high voltage (UHV) upwards of 1000kV, in preparation for the energy transmission grids of the future.

The energy transition is leading to vastly increased levels of electrification. Cooking, heating, personal transportation – it’s all pivoting away from fossil molecules and towards electricity. This results in the need for ever increasing voltage-levels through DC-based networks, to facilitate long-distance transportation of electricity while minimising energy loss.

However, our current energy networks and the materials they use aren’t designed for ultra-high voltage levels. Similarly, current testing techniques and measurement systems are all based on lower voltages and thus require updating. Indeed, there is even a need for new measurement systems – specifically for high voltage testing techniques and partial discharges (small ‘leaks’ in energy networks that are peculiar to ultra-high voltage levels).

Eight metrology organisations came together to tackle these metrology challenges: LCOE (Spain), LNE (France), MIKES (Finland), PTB (Germany), RISE (Sweden), UME (Türkiye), and, last but not least, VSL.
VSL helped characterise the voltage dependencies of compressed gas capacitors up to voltages of 800 kV, which had not been possible before at an accuracy of 80 uF/F. As part of the FutureEnergy Project, a new facility was also developed that is capable of measuring lightning impulses upwards of 2.5MV – over twice the voltage of UHV transmission lines. This has practical applications for testing transmission line equipment but also adds value to various high-voltage switchgear that has to be able to withstand lightning strikes.

The FutureEnergy Project has resulted in various strong advances in metrology related to UHV networks. For further information about the research results, please read this summary.