The issue manifested itself just four laps into FP1, meaning Vettel had to pull his RB10 to a halt on circuit.
His car was returned to the garage but he was unable to return to the fray, and Red Bull subsequently confirmed that the four-time world champion would also miss Friday's second session in order to cure the problem.
"Due to an electrical problem that has damaged the wiring loom of Car No. 1, Sebastian will not be able to take part in FP2," Red Bull said on Twitter.
"The Team will use the time to fix it to be ready for FP3 tomorrow."
In 2014, Vettel has suffered his worst start to a Formula One campaign since joining Red Bull. In contrast to last season, he has scored just one podium and 33 points over the opening four races, and in addition has finished behind new team mate Daniel Ricciardo in the last two Grands Prix in Bahrain and China.
Red Bull provided the German with a new chassis for Barcelona, a decision he admitted on Friday had been at least partly influenced by his recent struggles.
As a result of this latest setback, Vettel will have just one hour in FP3 to prepare for qualifying, which commences at 14:00 local time on Saturday.