Substation upgrade

Region­al low-volt­age and medi­um-volt­age grid oper­a­tors are clear­ly feel­ing the effects of the ener­gy tran­si­tion. The ener­gy sup­pli­er EWF is there­fore focus­ing on a detailed sta­tus analy­sis and new sen­sor tech­nol­o­gy for old­er equip­ment that should con­tin­ue to func­tion reli­ably.

Green, wood­ed hills, its own nation­al park and well-kept half-tim­bered architecture—the dis­trict of Waldeck-Franken­berg is an idyl­lic spot in north­ern Hesse and pop­u­lar with hik­ers from all over the world. Energie Waldeck-Franken­berg GmbH (EWF) sup­plies around 90,000 house­holds in the region with elec­tric­i­ty, which is increas­ing­ly com­ing from renew­able sources such as solar and wind. This pos­es major chal­lenges for the ener­gy com­pa­ny, reports Thorsten Wieck, Region­al Man­ag­er at EWF: “We may be a small­er grid oper­a­tor, but we are also notic­ing major changes due to the ener­gy tran­si­tion in our very rur­al area—in some cas­es even before our col­leagues at the extra-high volt­age lev­els.”

At the moment, every­one is invest­ing in grid expan­sion, and Wieck and his team receive dozens of appli­ca­tions for new, often large PV sys­tems every week. In addi­tion, a wind farm with two trans­form­ers of its own will soon be built. “There’s an enor­mous amount of move­ment,” says Wieck. To ensure that the pow­er sup­ply in the more than 1,800 square kilo­me­ter grid area func­tions reli­ably, it is impor­tant that the equip­ment does not fail, and this is also the case at the sub­sta­tion in Kor­bach.

Energie Waldeck-Franken­berg GmbH (EWF) sup­plies around 90,000 house­holds with elec­tric­i­ty. © Jochen Has­ma­n­is

Wieck explains: “We are respon­si­ble for a total of eleven trans­form­ers in our area. Although trans­form­ers can func­tion reli­ably for sev­er­al decades under high loads, old­er sys­tems are poten­tial­ly more sus­cep­ti­ble to prob­lems and require more main­te­nance. At the same time, their uti­liza­tion is increas­ing due to changes in the grid. We there­fore need to think about how we can deal with this and what we can expect in the future.”

Data Analysis

To address these var­i­ous ques­tions, Wieck turns to his long­time Rein­hausen con­tact Wern­er Sam­met. “We have already car­ried out sev­er­al ser­vices for EWF and know their needs and we are good at assess­ing what real­ly ben­e­fits the cus­tomer and where they should invest first,” explains Sam­met. “For UW Kor­bach, I there­fore rec­om­mend­ed our dig­i­tal con­sult­ing approach TESSA® FLEETSCAN 2D which allows us to cre­ate a detailed inven­to­ry and get an accu­rate pic­ture of the rel­e­vant trans­form­ers. We then repeat this in one to two years and com­pare the results.”

„We are very good at assess­ing what real­ly adds val­ue for the cus­tomer.“

Wern­er Sam­met, MR Area Sales Man­ag­er

An impor­tant basis for Thorsten Wieck: “Instead of just a snap­shot, we need a con­tin­u­ous, reg­u­lar analy­sis to iden­ti­fy trends at an ear­ly stage—so that we can act in good time before some­thing breaks down. To do this, how­ev­er, we need to know what the ini­tial sit­u­a­tion is. With a part­ner like MR, we have the spe­cial­ist knowl­edge we need to ensure that our equip­ment con­tin­ues to run reli­ably for years to come.”

Upgrade for Sensor Technology

Analy­sis alone is not enough, and an eval­u­a­tion is only as good as its data. This is why EWF is also invest­ing in new mon­i­tor­ing devices such as a MESSKO® oil lev­el indi­ca­tor, a MESSKO® ther­mome­ter, and the main­te­nance-free MESSKO® MTRAB® dehy­drat­ing breather which pre­vents the ingress of mois­ture and increas­es oper­a­tional safe­ty, while at the same time pro­vid­ing impor­tant mea­sured vari­ables. “We have often pur­chased spare parts from MESSKO® and have also had good expe­ri­ence with the MTRAB®, empha­sizes Wieck, “It was there­fore clear to us that we would also use it here—on one of the trans­form­ers, but also on two reac­tors.”

“We are more depen­dent than ever on our equip­ment always being in the best pos­si­ble con­di­tion.“

Thorsten Wieck, Region­al Man­ag­er EWF

The main­te­nance-free breather keeps the oil insu­la­tion dry, and regen­er­ates the des­ic­cant based on its con­di­tion, mean­ing that no replace­ment is nec­es­sary. This saves the ser­vice team valu­able time, and EWF can also read out the val­ues remote­ly via an app. The oil lev­el and tem­per­a­ture indi­ca­tors as well as the three new MTRAB®s are installed by MR’s ser­vice tech­ni­cians. “Our cus­tomers can fit a ther­mome­ter themselves—it’s a sim­ple plug and play principle—but the oil-lev­el indi­ca­tor is tricky so our spe­cial­ists pre­fer to do that them­selves,” explains Sam­met.

Well equipped

The work in Kor­bach went accord­ing to plan and for Wieck this is just the begin­ning: “Main­tain­ing our assets in an even more tar­get­ed man­ner with the knowl­edge gained from the ongo­ing TESSA® FLEETSCAN 2D analy­ses is essen­tial. A lot can also be done direct­ly on our premis­es using MR equip­ment.” Dis­man­tling a trans­former for analy­sis and repairs and send­ing it across the coun­try, as was com­mon prac­tice in the past, is no longer eco­nom­i­cal. The trans­porta­tion costs are far too high, and roads and bridges are some­times unsuit­able. Nowa­days, for­tu­nate­ly, every­thing can be done on site or even remote­ly.“

Bet­ter analy­sis options and sim­pli­fied main­te­nance are cru­cial for grid oper­a­tors like EWF in order to keep equip­ment in opti­mum con­di­tion for years despite increas­ing capac­i­ty uti­liza­tion,” says Sam­met. He fur­ther adds :“Espe­cial­ly in the cur­rent­ly dif­fi­cult sup­ply sit­u­a­tion with trans­former man­u­fac­tur­ers and an enor­mous price increase for new trans­form­ers, I think EWF’s deci­sion is exact­ly right. With an aver­age trans­former age of 40 years, oper­a­tors and ener­gy sup­pli­ers in Ger­many should mon­i­tor their most impor­tant assets in the sub­sta­tion more close­ly in view of new chal­lenges and increas­ing ener­gy demand in order to extend the ser­vice life as much as pos­si­ble and ensure a smooth pow­er sup­ply.”

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