The constant quest for innovation

How compact modular substations dramatically reduce installation time for critical applications

It’s 1998, and John is relocating from London to Zürich. He needs his desktop computer, so he shuts down the workstation, disconnects the cables and starts boxing up all the components. A courier ships the boxes to Zürich, where John has to reconnect it all, hoping he hasn’t lost a cable. It’s 15 years later, and John decides to return to the UK. He shuts his lightweight, compact laptop and slips it into a carry-on bag, knowing that it’s ready for use as soon as he powers it up.

In a very short span of time the world of electronics has become smaller, smarter and more powerful. For 20 years, the relentless focus of computer manufacturers has been on key features like compactness, portability and integrated functions, to make life easier for users. The power sector is looking at similar elements when limited accessibility, tough site conditions, project urgency or safety of site personnel threaten to interrupt installation times.

This need has led to the introduction of a new concept in the high-voltage business: modularized outdoor substations comprising multi-function components. This involves integrating traditional substation components and functions into modules that are assembled and high-voltage tested in a controlled environment, ready for use as soon as they arrive on site. Within this concept, most installation and testing is done at the factory, reducing the need to assemble and test separate components on site.

The hybrid switchgear PASS 420 kilovolt (kV) substation bay with integrated functions including protection and control can be transported on a trailer. It has a special function that enables the bushings to be rotated from service to transport position and vice-versa, a process that takes less than 30 seconds for each bushing. The set-up saves the user weeks of permits, civil works, construction, assembly, connections and testing, while also eliminating the need for special equipment on site.

Can you imagine the further benefits of a two-day installation where it earlier took months, especially when an application is in the middle of the desert, on a remote island or offshore? Or for an urgently needed replacement? And can you imagine how many other ways a modular concept might improve high-voltage substations?

You can see more of this concept in action in this video:

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About the author

Andrea B Meroni

As a Marketing Manager for ABB Italy, I’ve been travelling the world on a mission to convert the substation sector from traditional solutions to innovative modules. Six years and many success stories later, I feel it’s time to share my thoughts with a wider audience. I am passionate about football, rock concerts, Dostoevsky and of course travelling.
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