Upgrading to MNS Digital solution strengthens Jämtkraft's production of renewable electricity in Sweden

Swedish utility company Jämtkraft has worked on the production of renewable electricity since the end of the 19th century. In order to contribute the renewable energy needed in a sustainable society, they would have to continuously upgrade their equipment. Now ABB has helped them secure the future of some of their low-voltage switchgear with an upgrade to MNS Digital.

Jämtkraft produces over 2 terawatt-hour (TWh) of renewable electricity every year and wants to continuously increase its production to contribute to Sweden's goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040 and a net zero emission of greenhouse gases by 2045. This means that they need to regularly upgrade their equipment to optimize processes and ensure stable operations.

Local biofuel in the form of residues from forestry and sawmills is processed into electricity and heating in Jämtkraft's combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Lugnvik, Sweden. The plant came into operation in 2002 and a couple of years ago work began on renewing the machinery.

“We felt we needed to do something about our low-voltage switchgear. Our MNS® INSUM 2 intelligent switchgear system was of an early generation and there was a shortage of spare parts, which of course meant a serious risk of disruptions in production”, says Anders Gjerstad, automation engineer at Jämtkraft.

The challenge was that the operating staff could not always fix errors that occurred in the switchgear. “Often an ABB engineer was needed to come on site and connect a computer to the switchgear to perform service. This was of course both resource and time consuming. And we recognized that with an ageing equipment, it was likely more and more problems would affect the overall site efficiency and impact on our operations.”

ABB's proposal for a solution to Jämtkraft's challenge was to replace the existing MNS INSUM 2 system with the modern MNS Digital solution including upgrading to the UMC 100.3 motor controller. Rather than investing in a completely new switchgear, a cost-efficient upgrade to MNS Digital meant the customer could replace the intelligent system and components inside the MNS switchgear. This also goes hand in hand with Jämtkraft's overall sustainability goals, as the parts that were fully functional could be retained.

  • Fredrik Alenius (ABB) and Anders Gjerstad (Jämtkraft) Photography: sandralee.se
  • Photography: sandralee.se
  • Fredrik Alenius (ABB) and Anders Gjerstad (Jämtkraft) Photography: sandralee.se
  • Photography: sandralee.se

“We saw that they had switchgear that was in good condition, and perhaps could work for a while longer - but with an obvious risk that they would have major problems with breakdowns in the equipment, where some parts were now obsolete”, says Fredrik Alenius, sales engineer at ABB.

“In addition, the upgrade to MNS Digital would mean that the switchgear would be smarter,” he explains. “MNS Digital also provides the opportunity to have a common communication platform, when different types of intelligent MNS switchgear are used in the same place."

“With an upgrade to MNS Digital, the switchgear’s life is extended. Thanks to the new components, spare parts are readily available and operational and maintenance costs are lower compared to the INSUM 2 system.”

The upgrade was carried out in the summer of 2019. Anders Gjerstad is very pleased with the result because with the MNS Digital solution it is now possible to efficiently monitor the condition of the switchgear.

“The upgrade provided an immediate noticeable improvement, not least because operation and service have become so much easier to handle. For example, we are no longer dependent on a laptop connection, rather everything can be overviewed and managed in a user-friendly way using built-in screens on panels”, he said.

“Production will not suffer from long emergency stops. It is not possible to eliminate operational disturbances completely, but it is clear that downtime has been minimized.”

MNS Digital works well in existing installations and is designed as a direct retrofit solution for the MNS INSUM system and can even be part of new switchgear or mixed installations. It offers the opportunity to have a common communication platform which, if different types of intelligent MNS switchgear are used in the installation, provides a future-proof solution.

“Both in terms of time and budget, the upgrade project went according to plan. MNS Digital has worked perfectly and in synergy with other components. There may be some risk when replacing only part of the equipment, as in theory there may be a lack of compatibility with the existing parts. But ABB delivered solid technical knowledge and competence throughout the project and this ensured that we had a holistic solution that would provide immediate benefit and enable us to future proof the system”, Gjerstad said.

Fredrik Alenius at ABB also highlights the close collaboration as one of the success factors in the upgrade of the low-voltage switchgear.

“It was a very rewarding project, with clear commitment from the customer. This helped us to deliver a turnkey solution for their specific needs. Now they have switchgear equipment that lasts for many years and helps them to further increase their production of renewable electricity,” he said.

Read more about Jämtkraft: https://www.jamtkraft.se/en/start/

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