ABB Ability based software solutions support digitalization of South African power grid

May 4, 2017 - ABB’s Network Manager SCADA and distribution management system at Eskom supports more than 100 control room operators and 6,000 field crews to keep the lights on.

Eskom, is the seventh largest utility in the world. It generates around 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and imports and exports power to countries in the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) region. Eskom generates, transmits and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, agricultural and residential customers and redistributors. Rising population and an increasing demand-supply gap are ongoing challenges and the utility is constantly looking for ways to address these in multiple ways. This includes long-term initiatives and continuous maintenance and improvement of the power grid, as well as extra capacity, to keep the lights on for millions of households and commercial businesses in South Africa. An increase in the supply of reliable power can significantly support economic growth in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

Eskom now operates one of the largest installations of ABB Ability-based Network Manager Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Distribution Management Systems (DMS) – a key component of the utility’s efforts to digitalize its grid. This technology supports more than 75 percent of the power distributed in the territories served by the utility. Eskom also uses the ABB Ability Service Suite, which is a workforce management software that enables the company to identify supply and network issues and dispatch field crews to the right location, helping to quickly restore power if there is an outage. This solution also enables the field resource to keep the dispatch center and the Customer Contact Center informed on the progress of the fault restoration.

Eskom’s move towards digitalization has made it possible for the company to reduce operating costs and improve their operational efficiency. The system supports a constant flow of actionable data with instantaneous status reports to operators across five control centers in Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg (close to Durban), East London, Johannesburg and Witbank, as well as data to service center staff, field crews and management. This has resulted in a significant improvement when it comes to managing unplanned outages and mitigating their impact. It also facilitates better maintenance planning.

“We are pleased to play a key role in supporting the grid optimization and digitalization efforts of Eskom. Our advanced software-based solutions and Network Manager SCADA/DMS technologies are making a significant contribution to help Eskom manage its electricity resources more efficiently, improve maintenance and minimize downtime from outages” said Massimo Danieli, Managing Director of ABB’s Grid Automation business unit, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. ”These digital solutions not only make the grid smarter but improve power security and reliability of electricity supplies to the people thus promoting customer satisfaction.”

Eskom services an area of 1.2 million square kilometers in South Africa, which is comparable in size with France, Germany and the UK combined. Their operations have been running for close to 100 years and cover 320,000 km of power lines across nine regions in South Africa. As the largest power producer on the African continent, they have the capacity of generating 44,000 MW from coal, hydro, gas, nuclear, sun and wind.

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