ABB technology revs up German grid

May 17, 2018 - Pedal to the metal: ABB innovations strengthen and optimize Germany’s rapidly changing power infrastructure

The ABB FIA Formula E race series, gearing up for its Berlin leg, has highlighted the importance of sustainable mobility and the increased role that electrical vehicles will play in a fossil-fuel-free future. To accommodate these demands, and to integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy into power grids, ABB is innovating effective solutions to optimize power quality and reliability throughout Germany.

One of ABB’s latest projects, installing the world’s first hybrid Static Compensator (STATCOM) in the Borken substation in Hessen, Central Germany, is one of these innovations. To be installed for the transmission system operator, TenneT, the ABB Ability-based hybrid STATCOM will combine the best features of two established ABB grid stabilization technologies, STATCOM and the Static Var Compensator (SVC) based on thyristor (solid-state semiconductor) technology. The hybrid system will stabilize voltage fluctuations caused by the intermittent nature of wind or solar power generation, ensuring the smooth transmission of renewable power into the grid.

ABB is also strengthening the grid in Philippsburg, in the southwest state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, by upgrading a substation for the German transmission system operator, TransnetBW. The existing air-insulated switchgear (AIS) at the substation will be replaced by a compact 380 kV gas-insulated switchgear (GIS), manufactured in ABB’s factory in Zurich, Switzerland. The new switchgear will strengthen the capacity and efficiency of the grid and reduce the substation’s size by 70 percent.

In Frankfurt/ Main, the busy and crowded financial and business center of Germany, ABB delivered an innovative underground substation that provides power for the city’s business district and main shopping area without taking up valuable urban space. This state-of-the-art gas-insulated substation is three levels down and 17 meters below street level. Normally, a conventional 110 kilovolt (kV) substation would be as big as a soccer pitch, but with ABB’s gas-insulated technology it is no bigger than a tennis court.

These upgraded substations will also help with new demands placed on the grid by increasing numbers of electric-charging cars and buses. This support continues ABB’s tradition of innovating in the face of challenging situations and a changing world.

ABB’s hybrid STATCOM is part of its family of Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS) technologies that help enhance the capacity and flexibility of power links. ABB has delivered more than 800 FACTS installations around the world.

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