Automating functions at a Peruvian hydropower plant

Paul Boughton

Automation technology is playing a key part in a new US$25m project to double the capacity of an underground hydropower plant in a remote area of the Peruvian Andes. The result will be reliable electricity supplies for local people and businesses. Sean Ottewell reports.

Located 1800metres above sea level in a remote area of the Andes mountains in Peru, the Machu Picchu hydropower plant provides local communities with vital electrical energy to power their homes, businesses, public utilities and infrastructure.

Now ABB, the Zurich-based power and automation technology group, is to supply electrical and automation solutions worth US$25million for an expansion of the plant.

A second powerhouse built underground - at 1800 metres above sea level - will add 100MW to the plant's present 90MW capacity. Besides more than doubling the plant's current generation capacity, it will provide customers in the remote region with a reliable supply of electricity free from voltage fluctuations and power cuts. They should also see a reduction in electricity tariffs, resulting from reduced transmission losses and the absence of tolling charges for power transmission across high voltage lines.

The expansion will help regulate the level and flow of the Vilcanota river, minimising the risk of landslides and flooding. The plant was buried by a landslip in 1998.

The project will be executed as part of a strategic alliance with Chinese company Harbin Electric Machinery one of the world's leading turbine suppliers, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

As part of the project, ABB will provide an integrated instrumentation control and electrical (ICE) solution, which includes protection and control equipment, instrumentation and control products, medium- and high-voltage switchgear, generator circuit breakers, excitation systems, transformers and cables.

Also included is a connection via a 138kV gas insulated substation to the power grid.

At the heart of the automation system is one of ABB's well-known System 800xA power plant control system for the hydro governor and balance-of-plant, enabling all automation functions from a single platform.

"Advanced ABB technologies can help harness the power of renewables to generate and reliably deliver clean, efficient energy," said Franz-Josef Mengede, head of ABB's global power systems power generation business.

Since its introduction five years ago, ABB's Industrial Extended Automation System 800xA has been sold to more than 5000 new and existing ABB customers.

According to the company, it has improved industrial productivity, safety, and operational profitability for customers in virtually every industry and every region, from process industries such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, pulp and paper, cement, and mining to traditional electric and water utilities to alternative energy production such as solar, waste-to-energy and bioethanol.

System 800xA serves as the foundation for a number of industry-specific automation applications. Designed from the beginning to act as an extended automation integration capability, it has proven to be well-suited for major composite plant systems and integrated process and electrical power systems.

"With its ability to integrate process and power systems on one unified platform, System 800xA provides our customers with key competitive advantages such as improved energy efficiency, process reliability as well as overall productivity," said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB's process automation division. "The widespread market acceptance of System 800xA over the last five years demonstrates how this innovative approach to automation has filled a real productivity need across virtually all industry sectors."

By integrating power and process systems on the common 800xA platform, ABB says customers can optimise the design and performance of their electrical and automation systems and see additional benefits in reduced maintenance, engineering and overall lifecycle costs. Typical savings can result in a 20 per cent reduction in capital expenditures and operating expenditures.

Several recent System 800xA projects include a fully integrated automation and electrical power system for PTT Chemical's Electrical Power and Steam combined cycle power plant near Bangkok, Thailand, power plant control for eSolar's Sierra commercial demonstration facility in California, and integrated process and electrical systems for EON Benelux's new high-efficiency power plant in the Netherlands.

ABB is executing the Andes project for Grana y Montero, a local engineering, procurement and construction company which has been engaged by Empresa de Generacion Electrica Machu Picchu, the leading state-owned power utility in Peru.

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