Going digital: A look at the modern substation

2017-10-20 - Windpower Engineering Magazine article by Steven A. Kunsman, Director of Product Management and Applications, ABB - October 17, 2017
A utility-scale wind farm must be accompanied by a substation or two. Equipment in the substation transforms voltage and governs the interface to the transmission grid. The substation plays a critical role and essentially acts as the motherboard of the power industry, controlling and directing power on demand, and essentially making sure the lights stay on.

To do so, electrical substations have typically used miles of copper cabling for point-to-point connections, measuring currents and voltages, and controlling the circuit breakers for power switching and protecting substation equipment. However, copper is expensive. It also has limited capacity for one measurement or a single control signal (important for power delivery and condition monitoring), and introduces potential safety risks to workers and equipment.

This conventional design and aging control equipment results in costly testing and maintenance, and restricts the communication of important information useful for identifying an asset’s health and determining when equipment maintenance is required. Grid operators of conventional copper-run substations must make periodic site visits to collect information on equipment, efficiency, faults, or failures.

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