Perfect aria conditioning for the Chemnitz Opera House

The Chemnitz Opera House attracts well over 90,000 visitors a year to enjoy opera, ballet and musical performances. ABB systems play a key role behind the scenes with automation systems and specialized HVAC drives working in harmony to ensure that both cast and audience experience perfect air conditioned comfort delivered with maximum energy efficiency.

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One of the most well-known cultural institutions in Germany, the Opera House was first opened in 1909. It was destroyed during the Second World War and reopened in 1951. Following extensive reconstruction work on the building in 1992, Chemnitz Opera House is regarded as one of Europe’s most modern theatres. It has recently been modernized to further improve ventilation and air conditioning for the 180 or so performances that take place every year while reducing energy consumption to meet current best practice.

The peak of energy efficient performance  
The main opera house as well as the theatre were completely modernized as part of an energy saving contract between the city of Chemnitz, the theatre and the contractor WISAG Energiemanagement. The project covered the ventilation and air conditioning equipment, hot water systems and lighting.

An ABB automation system installed in 2015 provides optimized control and energy management for the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning) equipment and hot water circuit. The system comprises three ABB A500 PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) as well as two specialized ACH550 low volt-age HVAC drives, together with fuses and relays.

Specialized HVAC drives cut energy consumption by 50 percent
Two PLCs execute the control functions in the opera house processing hundreds of I/Os (in-puts/outputs) from other control units, substations and the drives. Another PLC is installed in the theatre. Communication between the controls in the opera house and the theatre is handled by one central unit which collects the information, evaluates it and transmits the appropriate response to the relevant panels and the building automation and control system. 

The Chemnitz Opera House is an architectural and cultural gem attracting well over 100,000 visitors a year. Image (c) Wuschanski / The Chemnitz Theatres

The central unit also communicates with the two specialized ABB HVAC drives integrated into the building automation system, which control the pumps in the district heating station. Rather than requiring the electric motors that run the pumps to run constantly at full speed, the drives facilitate stepless speed control based on the actual demand. Reducing the motor speed by 20 percent lowers the power required by up to 50 percent. Typically, ABB HVAC drives offer a return on investment within months, based on energy savings alone.

A second central unit controls the heating as well as the large and complex ventilation systems of the opera house. The environment is adjusted according to the outdoor temperature, indoor conditions and several timer programs.

According to Jens Israel, Project Manager I&C technology at WISAG Energiemanagement:   

"The level of management, flexibility and user friendliness offered by the combination of ABB’s PLCs and HVAC drives are the key to effective climate control at the Chemnitz Opera House."

Moritz Vogel, operating engineer at the opera, confirms: "The handling of the PLC and drives is very good. The user interface is intuitive. We have also added functions ourselves and this was really easy."




The Chemnitz Opera House and Theatre

Location Chemnitz, Germany
Industry HVAC
ABB deliveries ABB AC500 PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), ACH550 low voltage HVAC drives, fuses, relays
Keys to success Energy savings, ease of use

Two HVAC ACH550 drives regulate the pumping of the substation.

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