Investment continues in major transmission projects

Paul Boughton

Suppliers to the transmission market are being kept busy by a raft of large orders from all around the globe. Sean Ottewell reports.

Prysmian Group has inaugurated its new submarine cable plant at Pikkala in Finland. The EUR40m investment will allow the plant to increase production of transmission cables that use high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) technology to transmit large amounts of energy over long distances.

The company is also expanding production capacity at its Arco Felice plant in Italy following the announcement of an EUR800m order for the Western Link submarine link between Scotland and England.

Prysmian has a growing track record of important offshore wind power connections, with projects either completed or ongoing in Denmark, Holland and the UK, as well as the HVDC connections to shore for the BorWin2, HelWin1, HelWin2 and SylWin1 mega wind farm hubs in Germany.

Prysmian has also signed an agreement to acquire 100% of Global Marine Systems Energy (GME) from Global Marine Systems (GMSL) for approximately EUR53m.[Page Break]

GME is a British company active in the installation of submarine power cables and systems. With an estimated turnover of approximately EUR75 million in 2012, GME has a new cable-laying ship among its strategic assets and offers high value-added services for the installation of submarine power connections, ranging from project management to cable laying, jointing and protection. GME has particular expertise in offshore wind farm connections and is currently involved in several major projects under construction in the North Sea.

"This acquisition is in line with our strategy of focusing investments to achieve growth in higher value-added businesses," explained Valerio Battista, ceo of Prysmian Group. "The expansion of submarine power cable installation capability allows us to have a tighter control over the supply chain by insourcing part of the work that until now we haven't done directly, such as inter-array cable installation between turbines. Our goal is to increasingly present ourselves as a partner able to offer turnkey products and services including design, manufacture and installation, anticipating a growing need of our utility and contractor/developer customers, particularly where offshore wind farms are concerned."[Page Break]


ABB has been awarded an order worth around US$60m (EUR46m) by American Electric Power (AEP) to replace a 30 year old HVDC back-to-back converter station in Texas.

The project scope includes engineering, supply, installation and commissioning of an HVDC back-to-back transmission system capable of delivering 220MW of power in either direction. The new system will have black-start capability, which enables fast grid restoration in the event of a power outage, allowing power to be used from the other end of the link. This is an important feature as the converter station is an integral part of the Oklaunion HVDC transmission link - an asynchronous interconnection between the Texas (ERCOT) and Oklahoma (SPP) power grids.

"In addition to enhancing grid reliability and power stability, our HVDC solution will enable the efficient transmission of electricity across this important interconnection," said Brice Koch, head of ABB's power systems division. "Besides leading edge technologies, ABB will bring significant domain expertise and global application experience to the project."

Other key components to be supplied as part of the turnkey solution include converter valves and ABB's MACH2 advanced control and protection system, which will help meet stringent system performance requirements.

ABB has also won orders worth over US$30m (EUR23m) to execute substation projects for the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), the country's national power transmission and distribution operator.

ABB will design, supply, install and commission two new 132/13.8 kV substations in the Al-Kharj area and in the adjoining Second Industrial City in the south-east of Riyadh. The growing cities were established in an effort to broaden and diversify the country's industrial base and reduce its dependence on oil.

The turnkey project scope includes delivery of key products such as high- and medium-voltage gas and air insulated switchgear, transformers, auxiliary systems and cables (Fig.1). ABB will also supply the Scada system as well as the automation, control, protection and communication systems, compliant with the international IEC 61850 standard to enable remote monitoring and control of power assets located at multiple sites from the central region control centre.

The substations will be equipped with capacitor banks to reduce electricity losses and enhance the stability and quality of power supply by improving the network's power factor, which is an indicator of the usable power available in the grid. The projects are scheduled for completion by 2014.[Page Break]

In Australian news, Western Power has awarded Downer EDI Engineering Power a construction contract valued at more than A$175m (EUR141m) for its new major transmission line between Pinjar, in Perth's northern suburbs, and Eneabba. The new 190 km transmission line will form a critical part of Western Power's A$443m (EUR358m) Mid West Energy Project Stage 1.

"The Mid West Energy Project is critical for the Mid West in facilitating the connection of new mining projects, encouraging investment in renewable energy projects and enabling new power generation projects to deliver power into the grid," said Western Power's acting ceo Paul Italiano.

The Pinjar-Eneabba 330 kV transmission line will connect to the 70 km transmission line which has been constructed by Karara Mining between Eneabba and Three Springs. Western Power will ultimately purchase the 70 km line as a part of the Mid West Energy Project. The transmission line that runs between Eneabba, Three Springs and then out to the Karara mine is already providing a power supply for the mine.

In US news, ITC Great Plains, in conjunction with Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), has placed its Hugo-Valliant high-voltage electric transmission line and substation project into service in south-eastern Oklahoma. The 18 mile, 345 kV line and 345 kV/138 kV sub station were implemented to reduce system congestion, provide more efficient and cost-effective transmission of energy and increase access to a broader range of generation resources. The sub station, near WFEC's Hugo power plant, provides a link to the WFEC 138 kV transmission system.

ITC's investment in a new high-voltage infrastructure in the Southwest Power Pool region is founded upon open access to the grid and collaboration with key energy stakeholders. The partnership with WFEC was crucial to the successful development of the Hugo-Valliant project.

"Completion of the ITC 345 kV project should reduce transmission congestion, improve reliability and reinforce long-term economics of the Hugo Plant," said Gary Roulet, ceo of WFEC. "Access to regional generation resources should positively benefit consumer electric bills."

Meanwhile General Electric has signed an equipment supply contract worth US$16.5m (EUR13m) with Power Transmission Company No. 4 to double Vietnam's existing power capacity through upgrading of the country's national backbone transmission system.

GE's series capacitor banks will be installed as part of the upgrade of the 500 kV Pleiku-Phu Lam transmission line to increase power capacity from 1000-2000A.[Page Break]

"The 500 kV Pleiku-Phu Lam transmission line, which is 500 km in length, is the backbone of Vietnam's north-to-south power transmission. Increasing the capacity of the line to transmit power across the country more efficiently will enable EVN to mobilise generation sources to more effectively meet power demand, which varies from region to region. When it comes into operation in 2013, the project is expected to supply approximately 800 MW to the southern area," said Dang Phan Tuong, chairman of the board of management of NPT.

Under the terms of the contract, GE will supply six series capacitor banks to NPT and provide on-site supervision for installation testing and commissioning. The project uses GE's latest fuseless technology to enable a 100 per cent increase in the current capacity of the existing transmission line and installed infrastructure.

GE will partner for the first time with a local corporation, 3C Co, to provide local content for the project. This is the second time GE has signed a contract directly with NPT. The first involved a similar capacitor banks installation in the 500 kV Da nang-Ha Tinh transmission line.[Page Break]

3M ACCR to expand transmission in Siberia

Already in use on four continents in a broad range of harsh climates, 3M ACCR (aluminium conductor composite reinforced) is now installed in Siberia, serving one of the region's largest cities, Irkutsk.

Irkutsk Electronetwork (IESK) chose the overhead conductor as a way to avoid tower construction or right-of-way expansion while nearly doubling power transmission to the city's central district, where growing demand was putting a severe strain on capacity, according to the utility.

3M ACCR is a lightweight, low-sag, high-capacity conductor that can carry twice the current or more of conventional steel-core conductors of the same diameter, on existing towers, thereby helping utilities circumvent problems in crowded urban settings and environmentally sensitive areas. Its low-sag characteristic also provides a solution for clearance issues.

In Irkutsk, the 110kV line raises capacity to 1600A on the link between a local hydropower plant and the Tzimlyanskaya substation, and to 1240A on the Tzimlyanskaya-Kirovskaya substation link. The 3M ACCR line replaced conventional steel-aluminium conductors.

The utility considered the option of increasing capacity by building a parallel line, but determined that acquiring the land and constructing the towers would be prohibitively expensive and difficult because of the crowded urban area. Installing larger aluminium-steel conductors would have required rebuilding the existing towers to bear the heavier weight.


Recent Issues