ABB to support integration of renewable power in South America

2016-12-05 - Gas-insulated switchgear to help Colombia’s largest hydropower plant to supply reliable power to meet growing demand

Image source: CC Flickr HidroItuango

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has received an order to supply gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) to Ituango hydropower plant for Colombian multi-utility group EPM (Empresas Publicas de Medellin).

Colombia is second to Brazil in hydroelectric potential in South America, where around 70 percent of power in the country is generated from hydro1. With a well-established regulatory framework for low-carbon and renewable energy technology, the country is committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 20302.

In the region of Antioquia, north of the city of Medellin, the largest hydropower plant in the country is being constructed. The project is set on the banks of Cauca River, touted as the “Cauca Canyon” where the river flows between deep canyons and steeply descends. The river that runs 1’350 kilometers in length provides water source to some 10 million inhabitants, about a quarter of the overall country’s population. Ituango hydropower plant will have a capacity of 2,400 megawatt (MW) and is expected to generate 13 percent of Colombia’s total installed power capacity.

To ensure the security of electricity transmission from the hydropower plant to the load areas, ABB will design, supply and commission fourteen GIS bays at 550-kilovolt (kV). The compact GIS solution addresses the challenge of space constraint to enable an overall switchyard footprint reduction of up to 90 percent compared to conventional air-insulated switchgear. ABB’s scope of supply also includes a 10 megavolt ampere (MVA) power transformer.

ABB’s state-of-the-art technology power solutions will help to strengthen the grid, enhance power supply to meet the increasing demand for electricity and contribute to economic development,” said Giandomenico Rivetti, Managing Director of ABB’s High Voltage Products business unit, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. “We are pleased to deploy our leading-edge technologies to support the integration of renewables, a key element of our Next Level strategy”.

ABB’s 550 kV GIS have been installed in some of the world’s largest hydropower plants including Three Gorges hydropower plant in China and Itaipu Binacional in Brazil-Paraguay.

In a power system, switchgear controls, protects and isolates electrical equipment to boost the reliability of power supply. ABB pioneered high-voltage GIS in the mid-1960s and continues to drive the technology, offering a full range product portfolio with voltage levels from 72.5 kV to 1,200 kV. As a market leader in high-voltage GIS technology, ABB has a global installed base of more than 25,000 bays.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. Continuing more than a 125-year history of innovation, ABB today is writing the future of industrial digitalization and driving the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 135,000 employees (

1 Electric Power in Colombia 2015, Procolombia
2 Hydropower Status Report 2016, International Hydropower Association