ABB to deliver third synchronous condenser to help the Faroe Islands continue its transition to green energy

ABB to deliver third synchronous condenser to help the Faroe Islands continue its transition to green energy

Synchronous condenser technology is helping SEV, the main electricity supplier, to restore spinning inertia vital to keep the Faroe Islands power grid in balance as the drive towards renewable energy resources increases

The third unit will be installed on the island of Borðoy, which is connected to the main grid

Project is integral to SEV’s goal to be generating 100 percent green energy by 2030

ABB is continuing its collaboration with SEV, the main electrical power producer and distributor for the Faroe Islands, to deliver innovative Synchronous Condenser (SC) technology to stabilize the power grid as fossil-fueled plant is phased out in favor of renewable generation. This latest development will see a third SC unit deployed on the island of Borðoy, in the north-east, where it will reinforce the local electricity supply for around 5,000 people.

The first 8 megavolt-ampere (MVA) ABB unit was installed in 2021 on the isolated island of Suðuroy. The second unit, rated at 12 MVA, was installed in 2022 next to the Sund power plant on Streymoy, the Faroes’ largest and most populous island which is served by the main electrical grid. The new 8 MVA unit on Borðoy will also be integrated into the main grid.

SEV has set an ambitious goal for the isolated Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic to be generating 100 percent green electricity from hydropower, solar and wind, biogas and potentially tidal streams. In addition to helping to combat climate change, this will bring important economic benefits by removing the current reliance on expensive fossil-fuel imports.

A major challenge for SEV is that decommissioning its existing diesel-fueled generating plant reduces the availability of the “spinning inertia” vital to keep the grid in balance and to ensure its safe operation. This must be tackled locally since there are no power cables connecting the Faroe Islands to neighboring countries, which means its grid cannot call on external support.

ABB is collaborating with SEV to tackle the stability challenge by deploying innovative technology in the form of synchronous condensers. These are rotating electrical machines that provide essential services to strengthen a power system and keep it stable as both loads and renewable energy production change. These services include inertia, fault level and reactive power for voltage regulation.

ABB's Synchronous Condenser
ABB's Synchronous Condenser

“Our plan to transition away from fossil fuels is going well. In 2023 just over 50 percent of our electricity was produced from green energy sources. However, it means that our collaboration with ABB on grid stability technology is increasingly vital to maintain continuity of supply to customers,” says Terji Nielsen, SEV’s Head of R&D. “We are very pleased with the operation of the first two SC units. This gave us the confidence to order a third unit for Borðoy.”

“Decarbonization of power generation is critical to enable productivity in a low-carbon world. But it can present a challenge for maintaining grid stability and resilience. That is why we are now seeing a major surge in interest for our SC technology that helps strengthen weak networks, especially in remote areas,” says Heikki Vepsäläinen, President of ABB’s Large Motors and Generators Division. “We are delighted to be continuing our collaboration with SEV to deploy a third unit. In effect, the Faroe Islands are becoming a working laboratory to demonstrate the benefits of SCs for power grids on island networks.”

ABB Motion, a global leader in motors and drives, is at the core of accelerating a more productive and sustainable future. We innovate and push the boundaries of technology to contribute to energy efficient, decarbonizing and circular solutions for customers, industries and societies. With our digitally enabled drives, motors and services our customers and partners achieve better performance, safety and reliability. We deliver the optimal motor driven solutions for a wide range of applications in all industrial segments. Building on over 140 years of domain expertise in electric powertrains, our more than 22,000 employees across 100 countries learn and improve every day.

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