ABB powers e-mobility in Rome

April 11, 2018 - Power networks are the backbone of our world, quietly delivering reliable supplies of quality electricity that make e-mobility (and high-performance electric car races) possible.



The ABB FIA Formula E Championship on April 14 brings fully-electric international single-seater street racing to Rome for the first time, a celebration of innovative e-mobility technology in one of the world’s oldest and most renowned capitals.

The electrical power that runs throughout the city while Formula E cars hurtle around a 2.7-km race-track is drawn from Italy’s national grid, operated and maintained by Terna S.p.A. Italy’s electricity comes from both domestic power generation (hydroelectric, thermal, wind and solar) and essential supplies of imported power. At the center of both worlds – e-mobility and power systems - is ABB.

Experience that counts

ABB is not only the global leader in modern electric vehicle infrastructure, but for many years has led the way in power transmission systems that make the world of e-mobility possible. For examples, look no further than two innovative ABB subsea interconnections linking Italy’s national grid and Europe with much-needed power sources in Sardinia and from Greece connecting to Turkey and Albania, enabling the region to share power.

Commissioned in 2011, the SAPEI link uses high-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology and submarine cables to deliver surplus power from the island of Sardinia to the Italian mainland. The link delivers enough electricity to supply one million homes, and helps strengthen the power grid near Rome. The transmission cable lies at the bottom of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and at 1,600 meters is not only the deepest subsea power cable in the world, but at 420 km one of the longest.

Another key example of ABB’s established expertise with HVDC interconnections in the region is the link connecting the power networks of Greece and Italy via a 160-km sea cable that crosses the Adriatic sea. Commissioned in 2001, the Italy-Greece HVDC link was a great leap forward in the development of DC subsea cables systems, reaching previously unheard of depths for a power cable (1,000 meters), and achieving some of the highest voltage and power ratings for a subsea power system at the time - 500 megawatts (MW) 400 kilovolts (kV).

ABB substations support infrastructure

Being a very popular city also put great demands on Rome’s infrastructure. Acea manages and develops water and electricity networks, as well as environmental services. The utility is focused on leveraging innovation and advanced technology to provide the city with water and power through a network of facilities, including a hydropower plant, called Salisano, which is located in the beautiful Italian countryside. Built in 1940, the Salisano plant is situated in the unspoiled natural landscape of Sabina National Park, surrounded by forest, deep gorges and farmland. The water that powers its turbines also provides clean drinking water for 3.5 million people in nearby Rome.

As part of a refurbishment project of the Salisano plant, Acea wanted a compact, easy-to-install sub-station that would fit in a new area that was safe but took up minimum space. Therefore, ABB designed a solution that was customized to the site requirements and easy to transport. This involved the installation of compact multifunctional modules (MFMs) that incorporated all substation equipment in a single, modular unit – including a power transformer, switchgear, control and protection equipment.

MFMs are available in units that range from 72.5 - 420 kilovolts and can be installed within hours and without the need for high-voltage testing on site. They are equipped with intelligent switchgear for monitoring and diagnostics, which enables preventive maintenance and reduces downtime. The MFMs can connect renewable energy to the grid and provide an energy recovery power supply or serve as backup switching bays. This innovative technology provided by ABB is just another recent example of how Acea and ABB have worked together to deploy sustainable solutions that enable a stronger, smarter and greener grid in the smart city of Rome.

Innovation that matters

ABB entered the EV-charging market back in 2010 and today delivers a wide range of charging solutions for electric vehicles, including electric and hybrid buses, with a rapidly expanding global in-stalled base of more than 6,000 fast chargers.

ABB developed and delivered the world’s first commercial HVDC project in the 1950s, a subsea connection between the island of Gotland and the Swedish mainland. Still today the island is connected to the mainland through HVDC and currently being upgraded with the latest version of the world leading control and protection system MACH™. HVDC is now the first choice for delivering subsea electrical transmissions and interconnections, providing efficient, stable transmission and control, as well as long-distance bulk power transmission that sends vast quantities of power over very long distances with low electrical losses.

ABB continues a long tradition of developing and delivering the innovations that help make interconnected worlds like e-mobility and power transmission ever more efficient, practical and sustainable.

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