Substation investment boom in wake of transmission and distribution contracts

Paul Boughton

Growing investment in transmission and distribution networks to meet the demands of expanding populations also means demand for – and investment in - new substations. Eugene McCarthy reports

Alstom has been awarded a contract to supply a synchronous condenser for transmission grid operator TenneT. This technology generates adjustable reactive power to ensure the grid stability needed due both to the upcoming closure of Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant in 2015, and the ever-increasing reliance on intermittent renewable energies.

It will be installed in the new transformer station in Bergrheinfeld West in southeast Germany. The project is set to be complete by the end of 2015. 

Alstom’s scope covers the supply of a 400MVA TOPAIR generator adapted for synchronous condenser operation to produce adjustable reactive power (+250MVar/-175MVar), along with all the required auxiliary systems. In addition, Alstom will prepare the 150,000m2 site for the new transformer station, and supply three air-insulated 380kV substations, a generator transformer with an output of 300MVA and a generator power switch.

“With the increase in renewable energies we are seeing for example in Europe and the USA, we expect demand for adjustable reactive power generation to increase in the years to come, in order to provide greater stability when using intermittent power generation. The highly dynamic generation of reactive power will improve grid stability,” noted Axel Kossmann, country sales director for Germany at Alstom Grid.

Next door in Austria, Austrian Power Grid has awarded Pöyry with a project for the construction of new 380/110/30kV switchgears at Kaprun substation, Austria. 

The deal includes detailed design engineering, project management and installation services as well as the supply of equipment. Dismantling of the existing 220kV switchgear and installation of the new components will be managed step by step, in close co-operation with Austrian Power Grid. The project has just commenced and will be completed by the end of 2016.

Kaprun substation is situated near Zell am See in the province of Salzburg. This project provides the direct integration into the 380kV transmission grid by means of a 380kV gas-insulated switchgear (GIS), two 380/110kV power transformers (300MVA each) and a 380kV interconnection towards Tauern substation. Units three and four of Kaprun pump storage power plant, owned by Verbund Hydro Power, will be linked to the new 380kV level. 

Also included is the partial upgrading and modernisation of the existing 110 kV switchgear as well as the modernisation of the local 16 kV distribution grid coupling. The project will be completed after deconstruction of the obsolete 220kV switchgear.

"Pöyry's comprehensive offering for the power transmission and distribution sector in Europe underlines the company's commitment to supporting its clients with the challenges of a changing power sector. Upgraded grid infrastructures are instrumental in adopting the future generation mix and to guarantee reliable power supply to all clients," said Phillip Norman, vice president of Poyry's transmission and distribution global competence line. 

In US news, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has completed a US$2 million (£1.2 million) substation upgrade in Wrightstown to enhance customer service reliability and help meet the growing demand for electricity in Burlington County.

The upgrade included installing two five tonne, 230 kV circuit breakers and connecting them to existing substation equipment. The new circuit breakers provide greater operational flexibility and resiliency for the local and regional transmission network.

"The work we have done to enhance our infrastructure is expected to benefit more than 19,000 customers in Burlington County," said Anthony Hurley, JCP&L vice president of operations. "By upgrading the substation in Wrightstown our system should be more resilient and provide us with more options to help shorten the duration of power outages, if they occur," he added.

The project is part of JCP&L's previously announced plans to invest US$251 million (£156 million) in 2014 on service reliability enhancements and other work, including its ‘Energising the Future’ transmission projects.

Also in the USA, construction is underway on a new FirstEnergy transmission substation in Doddridge County, West Virginia, to support the electric demands of the area's rapidly expanding Marcellus Shale gas industry and help enhance service reliability for Mon Power's customers in Doddridge and neighbouring counties.

As part of the construction process, crews recently completed the foundation work and erected steel structures at the new 11 acre substation site near Sherwood, West Virginia. The US$36 million (£22 million) project also includes a short transmission line to connect the new substation with an existing 138 kV line located nearby.

"FirstEnergy's infrastructure enhancements help support the increased Marcellus gas activity in West Virginia," said Holly Kauffman, FirstEnergy's president of West Virginia operations. "With the natural gas industry bringing new employment and business development opportunities to the state, FirstEnergy and Mon Power will keep pace by continuing to upgrade our system to meet this growing demand for safe and reliable electric service."

The new substation will be connected to MarkWest's Sherwood processing facility via two, four-mile transmission lines. The plant is a midstream processing facility that separates natural gas into dry and liquid components. The refinement and separation processes typically use large amounts of electricity. The new substation has been designed so that it can be expanded in the future to accommodate additional load growth at the MarkWest facility.

The new substation is expected to be completed and operational in December 2014. Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line, a FirstEnergy transmission affiliate, will build and own the substation. Mon Power will own the short transmission line connecting to the existing 138kV line, as well as some metering equipment inside the substation.

Finally, officials of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) in India have told The Hindu newspaper that administrative sanction had been given for constructing a new 110/33/11 kV substation inside Phoenix Market City mall, at a cost of Rs 74 crore (£7.4 million). It has also been proposed to install an additional transformer of 16MVA capacity in the existing substation, where three 16 MVA transformers are currently available, and a total of 50 transformers across Velachery, to prevent the low voltage fluctuations experienced in various parts of the city and region.

£14m investment to boost Birmingham power network

More than £14million is being spent on a major initiative to boost power supplies in Birmingham, UK. Western Power Distribution (WPD), the electricity distributor for the region, is committed to investing in its network to further improve supply reliability and customer service levels.

This new initiative involves the construction of a new substation in Hockley and the laying of around 8km of new 132,000 volt cable to connect the new substation to three existing substations at Nechells, Summer Lane and Winson Green. This will help to further safeguard supply reliability to around 41,000 customers in the city centre.

WPD’s investment is also designed to better accommodate any increased demands placed on the power network in the future for additional developments.

“It ensures that we can provide a high level of service to these areas in the long term by improving the infrastructure and security of our electricity network,” said Mick Dunne, WPD’s projects manager for the area.

The project, which has recently started, is expected to be complete in late 2015. Cable laying work is expected to be completed by April 2015. During this period, traffic management will be in place in Birmingham in order to enable WPD’s contractors Prysmian and Durkin and Sons to lay the new cables near the city centre.

“While this work is being undertaken, our aim is to keep any disruption to an absolute minimum. We have been liaising with Birmingham City Council to agree on a cable route which creates the least disruption for traffic flow in the area,” added Dunne.

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