Power system experts and utilities connect at CIGRE 2022 to accelerate a sustainable energy transition

Power system experts and utilities connect at CIGRE 2022 to accelerate a sustainable energy transition

  • The power system sector is facing a perfect storm of challenges, including rising energy prices and the complexities of integrating more renewable energy into the grid
  • Technologies already exist to address these challenges, such as centralized protection and control and SF6-free switchgear, but the pace of adoption is slow
  • The time is now to integrate sustainable and smart grid technologies to speed up the pace of decarbonization

ABB is attending CIGRE 2022, the leading global event for power system expertise, taking place in Paris from August 29 – September 2.

Power system providers are facing a perfect storm of challenges, including rising energy prices, energy insecurity and the complexities of integrating more renewable energy sources into the grid without stretching it beyond its limits. With these challenges set to intensify, now is the time for organizations to take positive steps to embrace the technologies that already exist to accelerate decarbonization and the energy transition.

One of the sector’s biggest topics globally is proposed regulations to phase out switchgear containing SF6, which is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases in existence, with a global warming potential (GWP) 25,200 times that of carbon dioxide. With the European Union planning to restrict the use of SF6 in new medium- voltage (MV) electrical equipment up to 24 kV by 2026, and up to 52 kV by 2030, the pressure is on for organizations to start their migration to more sustainable products, like those in ABB’s ecoGIS™ switchgear portfolio, including AirPlus™, a pioneering SF6-free gas insulation mixture, which has almost zero GWP while keeping the advantages of SF6, including reliable low-pressure design. 

At the same time, a key trend facing power systems is the challenge of connecting renewables into the network. Net zero targets for energy generation are drawing closer, for example as part of the European Commission’s plans to scale up renewable energy in power generation, industry, buildings and transport, it proposes to increase the target to 45% by 2030. It is not government targets alone driving this trend, as consumers, facing sharp rises in energy prices and the cost of living, are increasingly turning to renewable energy sources such as rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels to reduce their carbon footprint and cut costs. This rise of the ‘prosumer’ is putting grids under unprecedented strain from the influx of renewable energy. Power system providers must put themselves in a position to be able to connect and integrate renewable energy into the grid efficiently and maintain continuity of supply.

The good news is there are technologies readily available to help them achieve this, such as: the newly released VD4 evo circuit breaker, enhanced with smart features and embedded with monitoring and diagnostic capabilities; MV current and voltage sensors with accurate tariff metering, which give utilities an extremely precise measure of energy distribution for accurate billing; and centralized protection and control with SSC600, which adds scalability and flexibility in digital substations. Also new approaches to meet the challenges are on the way, such as virtualized protection and control benefitting from virtual machine technologies, powered by Intel® Xeon® processors.

The big challenge, according to Martin Stefanka, Division Technology Manager at ABB, is getting organizations to go beyond the piloting stage and scale up adoption of solutions faster. “The reality is that acceptance of new technology is not keeping pace with the level of change that is needed. Processes are complex and approval takes too long. Global operators should be planning their shift to specifying SF6 -free switchgear, for example, starting with testing via pilot projects, and then moving to volume specification. We are partnering with some progressive utilities that are motivated to push these technologies to the market faster and create a path to acceptance now. We have been developing breakthrough products and leading the way, but we need collective action to rethink how technologies are introduced at scale and remove barriers to ensure that we work together to meet the pace of change needed.”

For some utilities, the journey towards decarbonization has already begun. UK Power Networks, which provides power to 8.3 million homes and businesses, recently commissioned ABB to supply the world’s first 36 kV medium-voltage double busbar AirPlus Gas Insulated Switchgear, which will help reduce the environmental impact of its operations while maintaining reliable electricity supply. Multinational energy company Enel has also installed SF6-free SafePlus AirPlus Ring Main Units from ABB, reducing the global warming potential of insulating gas by almost 100 percent while improving safety and ensuring reliability and availability.

At CIGRE 2022, ABB will showcase MV distribution solutions and digital, remote service offerings including:

To find out more about how ABB can support the transition to SF6-free MV switchgear, download our whitepaper: https://campaign.abb.com/ecogiswhitepaperpr

Visit us at Palais des Congrès Level 1, booth S162

Explore ABB's CIGRE webpage.  

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. www.abb.com

Electrifying the world in a safe, smart and sustainable way, ABB Electrification is a global technology leader in electrical distribution and management from source to socket. As the world’s demand for electricity grows, our 50,000+ employees across 100 countries collaborate with customers and partners to transform how people connect, live and work. We develop innovative products, solutions and digital technologies that enable energy efficiency and a low carbon society across all sectors. By applying global scale with local expertise, we shape and support global trends, deliver excellence for customers and power a sustainable future for society. go.abb/electrification

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