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ABB wins $100m deal to strengthen South American grid

Steve Rogerson
May 6, 2020

ABB has won a $100m framework contract to strengthen South America’s power grid. The Swiss company has signed a five-year contract with Columbia-based utilities company Interconexion Electrica (ISA).
ISA operates more than 62,000km of power transmission infrastructure with over 7000km under construction. The company also provides services in transportation, information and telecommunications.
“ABB Power Grids is shaping the future of sustainable energy and our purpose is fully aligned with ISA’s goal of ensuring a sustainable power supply in South America and mitigating climate change,” said Claudio Facchin, president of ABB Power Grids. “Our pioneering technologies are extending access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, increasing efficiency and competitiveness, while paving the way for bulk renewable integration and an interconnected global grid.”
As the largest transmission system operator in South America, ISA is responsible for serving millions of people and businesses with electricity.
Highly reliable shunt reactors will be supplied ensuring that the voltage stays within safe limits, avoiding possible blackouts. Managing electrical transmission is a constant balancing act and electrical stability can be a challenge at high voltages and over long distances, because, as distance increases, voltage becomes less stable.
To protect the electrical network and help prevent power outages, the contract also includes the supply of gas-insulated switchgear (GIS), air-insulated switchgear (AIS) equipment such as circuit breakers, instrument transformers and hybrid modules.
Shunt reactors are based on the same technology as transformers and ABB pioneered transformers and high-voltage equipment over 130 years ago, continuing to drive innovations in this space. It has about two and half million power and distribution transformers and one million high-voltage switchgear installations across the world.
ABB has been contributing to the integration of sustainable electricity generation in South America for decades. Notable projects include the Itaipu HVDC transmission system in Brazil, first commissioned in 1984, transmitting up to 6.3GW of hydropower and holding the world record for the world’s most powerful HVDC system for over 20 years. Another being the supply of essential power equipment for integration of the Ituango hydro power station into the power grid, which promises to be the most important hydro power plant in Colombia when it comes online in 2021, generating up to 14 per cent of the country’s electricity.
Additionally, ABB products are also being used in the integration of vast wind and solar power systems throughout Chile and in Brazil’s largest solar farm, supporting the rapidly growing renewable power sector.
ISA, headquartered in Medellín, Colombia, operates in various areas of South America including Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and central America.