Innovative solution delivers swift power upgrade for one of Europe's major waste to energy power plants

Innovative solution delivers swift power upgrade for one of Europe's major waste to energy power plants

  • Waste to energy plant successfully modernizes installed base with just minutes of downtime
  • ABB’s Direct Replacement solution delivers swift and safe modernization
  • New equipment future-proofs operation for advanced monitoring and communication

A major European waste to energy incinerator plant has successfully modernized its aging network of circuit breakers with just minutes of downtime thanks to an innovative solution from ABB.

The Nordværk energy plant in Aalborg, Denmark, which provides renewable energy for thousands of households in Northern Jutland, took advantage of ABB’s Direct Replacement (DR) solution to remove and replace only the mobile parts of its legacy Emax circuit breakers.

The solution was implemented across the installed base at Nordværk’s 42 MW district heating plant in Aalborg East where the breakers had been in place since it was built in 2005. With spares for the legacy breakers no longer available, a modernization program was required to ensure the plant could continue its uninterrupted operation in a safe and sustainable manner.

According to Nordværk electrician, Claus Riis, a long, unplanned outage was out of the question and even a planned retrofit solution would have been problematic. He said: “We have an important task of producing electricity and district heating for Aalborg, and its critical infrastructure. It's hugely expensive to shut down completely when you have a 17 MW electricity and 42 MW district heating plant.

“Replacing the breakers with minimal downtime was of utmost importance so when we were presented with the new possibilities enabled by Direct Replacement, it was actually a pretty easy choice.”

ABB’s DR solution is available for withdrawable Emax and New Emax circuit breakers in situations where minimizing shutdown time is critical. The solution is easy to install and guarantees safe modernization of the old system. The downtime is short as only the mobile part of the old circuit breaker is replaced with a dedicated Emax 2 part.

The new breakers are type-approved with the same configuration as the existing breakers and conversion wiring is included, further simplifying the exchange process so that it can typically be completed in just ten minutes. Furthermore, ABB’s service continuity guarantee ensures uninterrupted operation during the upgrade process, delivering huge savings in both downtime and labor.

  • For a utility like Nordværk, where operations are critical, it is crucial that breaker replacement can be done quickly and with the shortest possible downtime.
  • It only took 10 minutes per breaker when Nordværk replaced their breakers with ABB's Direct Replacement solution. Claus Riis, an electrician at Nordværk electrician, Claus Riis is speaking with ABB's Ole Dahl about the operation.

Ole Dahl, Electrification Service Sales Engineer at ABB Denmark, believes many businesses are delaying modernizing their breakers due to an outdated assumption that replacement entails the removal of key equipment for extended periods.

He said: “Circuit breakers play a vital role in preventing over-heating or fire causing catastrophic damage and stoppages but too many businesses where uptime is crucial, such as power plants, hospitals and data centers, are running old install bases to the point of failure.

“Modernization projects such as Nordværk prove that legacy breakers can be upgraded with minimal downtime. Spare parts are readily available for the new equipment, which is not only more reliable but also future-proofed with the possibility for advanced monitoring and communication.”

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