Gas-insulated substations as lunchtime conversation

Lunch with an expert provides an inside look at substations.

Guest post courtesy of Joe Powell

On the Tuesday at Automation & Power World I had the opportunity to have lunch with Ulf Andersson, Director of Engineering for ABB Power Systems – Substations. He is one of the ABB topic experts known as the Brainy Bunch who are available throughout the week to talk to about specific issues, in this case Air and Gas Insulated Substations (GIS).

Mr. Andersson walked our table through the basics of GIS. Particularly tricky locations can have a substation solution that incorporates every component completely contained within a building/structure. This allows for these substations to occupy smaller footprints and be safe from the surrounding environment. Applications can range from downtown-urban areas to corrosive environments such as sea shores. While some of the larger substations in this group can be air-insulated, the compact enclosed substations use SF6 gas to keep everything cool and operating efficiently.

Stretching the topics a bit, I inquired of Mr. Andersson his opinion on whether GIS in particular and the US electrical grid in general are going to begin a transition to DC, and if they should. He foresees an expansion of the existing DC infrastructure, but using that more as a backbone to a larger AC network than what we even have today. In terms of the impact on GIS, he didn’t venture a guess other than that methods and engineering will continue to improve.

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About the author

Bob Fesmire

Bob Fesmire is a Content Manager at ABB, based in Cary, North Carolina. He has written more than 150 articles and white papers on a variety of topics including energy efficiency, industrial automation and big data. In addition to his work at ABB, Bob is also the co-author of Energy Explained, a non-technical introduction to all aspects of the energy industry.
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