In the largest single contract awarded for its distribution network in 2012, SSEPD is utilising an Energy Network Association (ENA) assessed retrofit service developed by ABB, in association with its OEM partner, P&B Switchgear, to address the increasing obsolescence, maintenance, reliability and safety issues associated with the existing oil filled circuit breakers, some of which date back to the 1950s. The aim is to boost the Ofgem health and safety index at the substations by bringing the switchboards up to modern safety and reliability standards.
ABB’s retrofit service offers a significant cost saving compared with replacing the complete switchboards, while giving the opportunity to extend their useful service life by 20 years or more. It also enables the project to be carried out on a fast-track basis with minimal disruption to the normal operation of the substations. In this case, ABB will retain the original fixed switchboard equipment, such as the housing and busbars, which remain in good condition, while a total of 60 South Wales Electric C4X and C8X circuit breakers will be replaced by VOR-S (vacuum oil replacement with a spring operated mechanism) retrofit units built around ABB’s well proven Vmax vacuum circuit breaker.
In addition to improving safety and reliability, the Vmax design will enable the existing 400 A and 800 A circuit breakers to be uprated significantly to 630 A and 1250 A respectively.
‘A crucial factor in winning this major contract with SSEPD is that, thanks to the successful completion of the ENA assessment process by P&B switchgear, our OEM partner, we are currently the UK’s first and only switchgear supplier to offer an ENA assessed retrofit service for MV switchgear ‘ said James Pierce, ABB’s PPMV BU Service Manager for the UK.
The UK rollout of ABB’s retrofit service follows the success completion of field trials with UK utility customers. These trials enabled ABB to gain vital experience with the variations encountered with the fixed switchboard equipment to create a plug and play solution.
Manufacturer of the SSEPD retrofit units has already commenced, and the first installation will start in January 2013 to enable project completion by the end of March 2013 - only 5 months from the order being placed.