Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

China embarks on smart substation project using ABB technology

Steve Rogerson
December 15, 2015
The State Grid China Corporation’s (SGCC) next-generation smart substations project will use software and power technology to enable remote control, protection, automation, monitoring and diagnostics for substations, as well as allow a reduction in their operating costs and footprint.
Integrated smart grid-enabling switchgear should support a more efficient, reliable and greener grid.
Swiss company ABB will install a 363kV disconnecting circuit breaker (DCB) with fibre optic current sensor (FOCS) integrating three substation functions – circuit-breaking, disconnecting and current measurement – in one component and reducing the space needed for a substation bay by up to 70 per cent. It is claimed to be the world’s first DCB with FOCS application at such a high voltage level.
In the integrated smart grid-enabling switchgear, the FOCS replaces the conventional current transformers required for measurement and protection and enables grid automation. This will be the first commercial installation of this technology at this voltage level, which is the backbone voltage level of the grid in north-west China.
The resulting smaller footprint reduces environmental impact. The substations should contribute to a more efficient, flexible and reliable national grid and build the backbone for the increasing renewable power in China.
According to China’s National Energy Administration, the installed power capacity of China’s renewable energy exceeded 400 million kilowatts, in 2014, accounting for more than 30 per cent of the total installed power capacity, making China the largest user of renewable energy. ABB will provide the DCB with FOCS equipment for the smart substation in Fuping, Shanxi province, which will supply power for a rapidly developing industrial area there.
“ABB continues to contribute its state-of-the-art technology to the development of the Chinese power infrastructure,” said Bernhard Jucker, head of ABB’s power products division. “Our equipment supports the development of a stronger, smarter and greener grid and reiterates our focus on leveraging technology as a key differentiating element in ABB’s next level strategy.”
ABB has installed about 1800 DCBs globally and brings the necessary experience in DCB with FOCS at the voltage level required by SGCC, running a pilot at 420kV in Sweden since 2010. As well as integrating three substation functions, the technology also provides a digital output of grid parameters for substation and grid automation. The equipment has the capability to be fully integrated into a smart grid based on the latest IEC standards of digital communications in power networks (IEC 61850-9-2LE).
As a result of replacing conventional equipment with smart technology, the footprint of air-insulated switchgear bays in a substation can be significantly reduced with a potential space saving of 70 per cent. Furthermore, several tons of equipment can be removed from a high-voltage substation, while substation safety is enhanced and installation time, design, operation and maintenance costs as well as environmental impact are lowered.
ABB will also supply its smart medium-voltage switchgear and transformer e-devices, such as self-dehydration breathers, as part of the project, facilitating the IoT.