Preserving World Heritage windmills using ABB Arc detection technology

Preserving World Heritage windmills using ABB Arc detection technology

  • Class-leading arc protection technology protects historic Kinderdijk windmills in the Netherlands
  • Safeguarding world famous 200-year-old wooden structures from fire
  • Fire protection will improve safety for residents and tourists

ABB electrification solutions have been retrofitted to protect 19 UNESCO World Heritage status watermills from the risk of fire in Kinderdijk, Amsterdam. Primarily constructed using wood and covered with reeds, the 200-year-old Dutch watermills require careful preservation, including protection from fire damage. Two devastating fires in 1981 and in 1997 burnt two mills to the ground.

UNESCO wanted to preserve these historic landmarks for future generations. Site inspections revealed that the electric system needed to be upgraded to ensure the best possible level of fire safety. With many of the 19 mills also used as residences, it was vital that upgrade works could be carried out without losing power supply for long periods of time. Components or subsystems had to be compact, suitable for retrofitting onto pre-existing electrical systems and quick to install to minimize power outages.

To provide outstanding levels of protection and meet the exacting needs of the project, ABB consumer units have been installed to protect against overloading, short circuits, and earth faults. The box is not only easy to retrofit in challenging environments like the windmills, but also offers a safe space for security components like DS-ARC1 Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDDs). These devices are equipped with an integrated Residual Current Circuit Breaker with Overcurrent Protection (RCBO), which adds protection against earth fault currents and overcurrents to the arc fault protection, vital to safeguard the mills and the resident miller families from the risk of fire.

DS-ARC1 - Arc Fault Detection Device (AFDD) with integrated RCBO
DS-ARC1 - Arc Fault Detection Device (AFDD) with integrated RCBO

Jan Dirk Verheij from SWEK Foundation World Heritage explains: “To preserve a mill, it needs to rotate regularly, which not only serves a functional purpose for conversation, but is also a major attraction for the hundreds of thousands of tourists, who travel here from as far away as Asia and the US every year. Thanks to ABB’s state-of-the-art distribution systems and Arc Fault Detection Device giving us the highest possible level of fire protection, we can now welcome these visitors with absolute confidence and preserve these windmills for future generations to enjoy.”

To find out more about ABB’s consumer units, click here and to discover more about ABB’s Arc Fault Detection Devices click here.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 105,000 talented employees in over 100 countries.

ABB’s Electrification Business Area is a global leader in electrical products and solutions, operating in more than 100 countries, with over 200 manufacturing sites. Our 50,000+ employees are dedicated to transforming how people live, connect and work by delivering safe, smart and sustainable electrification solutions. We are shaping the future trends of electrification, differentiating through technological and digital innovation while delivering an outstanding experience through operational excellence for our customers across utilities, industry, buildings, infrastructure and mobility. For more information visit

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