Swiss/German Hydroelectric power station modernization with Freelance DCS

The plant is now ready for unmanned and safe operation. The ABB Freelance DCS upgrade could be done smoothly during the maintenance phase for the turbines.

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Upgrade with the Freelance DCS helps the plant operator get reliable decisions while being efficient

The plant is in operation since 1930 and has experiences various upgrades

Hydraulic power has been used for the environmentally friendly generation of electric power for over 100 years. There are 11 run-of-river power stations to be found on the stretch of the upper Rhine between Lake Constance and Basel, together producing around 4,100 GWh of power per year. Numerous hydraulic power stations were built over the period from 1890 to 1930 and are still in operation today.

The Ryburg-Schwörstadt power station is the largest of these river power stations and was started up in 1930. Each year, the power station generates around 760 million kilowatt hours of CO2-free power, which it delivers to energy suppliers both in Germany and in Switzerland.

Main facts

Industry Energy and utilities
Customer Kraftwerk Ryburg-Schwörstadt AG
Country Switzerland/Germany

Freelance DCS with:

 System integrator

Freelance control system supporting efficient plant modernization

The power station was converted from analog technology to the Contronic P ​DCS in 1988. ​Later, Contronic P ​was stepwise being replaced by the Freelance DCS.

The conversion to modern and future-proof controllers and a modern control stations also ​allowed for integration of remote alarm functionality. When there is no operator in the control room, messages can be forwarded to a pager or a mobile phone. Furthermore, replacing the ​old system with a modern ​DCS helps to avoid problems with spare parts. In fact, one particular reason why we chose Freelance was that ABB offered an efficient and cost-effective way of migration.

Multi-phase migration strategy implemented by system integrator helped to shorten downtime

BERFA AG, the company commissioned to replace the old control technology, decided to use a multi-phase migration strategy. This strategy facilitated the system integator's ​effort and reduced the interruption times.

The first phase included the replacement of the old Contronic P vizualization with the Freelance operator interface. It could be run both with Contronic P process stations and with the AC 800F controllers by using a coupling station. In the second phase, the Contronic P process stations ​were successively replaced with AC 800F controllers.

Hubert Strittmatter, head of electrical engineering at the Ryburg-Schwörstadt AG power station
"The conversion was necessary because the power station had to be prepared for unmanned operation. It operates fully automatically and the control room is only manned sporadically. We therefore needed a modern control system."

Advantages of the conversion to the Freelance DCS

For the Ryburg-Schwörstadt AG power station, it was particularly important that the energy billing function could continue running without interruption during the conversion. Thanks to the two-stage concept developed by the system integrator, BERFA, the power station’s staff have been able to gradually familiarize themselves with the new automation.

  • No interruption to energy billing
  • Straightforward training
  • Reliable operation
  • Modern visualization that is open to the future
  • Long-term availability of the Freelance DCS
Hubert Strittmatter
“We are very satisfied with both the solution from BERFA and the system from ABB. Our power station has been generating power for over 75 years and it is still a long way away from retirement. This is why the fact that ABB has promised that the Freelance DCS will be available for a long time is so important to us.”
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