ABB’s power technology selected for largest wind farm in Western Australia

World’s slimmest 33 kilovolt (kV) medium voltage switchgear to support $750 million renewable energy project

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, announced it has been awarded a contract worth $4.5 million to supply power technology for the Collgar Wind Farm project, situated 25 kilometers south east of Merredin in Western Australia (WA).

The project is the largest wind farm development currently under construction in the southern and will displace more than one million tones of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to taking more than 250,000 cars off the road.

With 111 wind turbines, the wind farm will generate approximately hours of renewable electricity per year, enough to power more than 125,000 homes every year. 

ABB will supply over 200 custom-built Safewind medium voltage switchgear units to be installed inside the wind turbine towers. The units will isolate and switch the 33 kV reticulation power generated by the turbine. All the live parts and switching components are protected in a stainless steel tank to ensure the highest levels of reliability and safety, as well as a long and trouble-free service life in the harsh and often inaccessible environments that are typical of wind farms.

“ABB was active in providing technical support early in the projects design phase and identified the lifecycle advantages that ABB’s new slimline 33 kV switchgear offered the Collgar project,” said Russell Zammit, business development manager for ABB Australia.

“, our latest product innovation for wind farms, is only 420mm wide and small enough to fit through the narrow doorway of the turbine tower. This means it can be installed, if required, after the tower has been raised, offering operators flexibility and a more rational and economical option over the expected lifetime of the towers.

”Russell continued: “Traditional wind-turbine switchgear is not known for being slender, and certainly is not capable of fitting through a standard tower door without significant disassembly and site modifications.

Rather, it is installed either inside the tower base or in a small secondary substation built alongside the tower. In the former scenario, the equipment must first be placed on the base before the tower is fitted over the equipment, which presents costly challenges if modifications or retro-fitting is ever required. 

“With wind turbine power outages from one tower alone potentially costing operators of the Windfarm up to $17,000 per week in lost generating capacity, installing state-of-the-art equipment such as ensures consistent and stable revenue by reducing possible generating ,”

Russell concluded.ABB was also selected to supply the electrical balance of plant (EBoP) by lead contractors Downer Engineering and Vestas Wind Systems. The facilities’ substation will be fitted with ABB’s 275 kV high voltage equipment, current and voltage transformer disconnectors, earthing switches, surge arrestors and 33 kV primary switchgear distribution boards, and distribution transformer for site power and auxiliary supplies.

In addition, two ABB 190 MVA power transformers, awarded under an earlier contract, will be installed at the wind farm to ensure the efficient transmission of renewable electricity into WA’s South West Interconnected System power grid.

WA’s renewable energy generated electricity from the region's main grid will rise from five to almost nine when the wind farm comes on-line. Construction is expected to be complete by April 2012. The state’s energy retailer Synergy has signed a 15-year contract worth an estimated $1.5 billion to purchase power from the Collgar Wind Farm.

The wind farm, which is based on 13,000 hectares of land, is a venture being undertaken by UBS International Infrastructure Fund and Retail Employees Superannuation Trust in Western Australia. 

ABB is one of the world's largest independent suppliers of internal electrical components, controls and grid connections for wind power projects. 

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