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Collaborative retrofit project key to reliable energy supply for Stuttgart

One of Europe’s largest energy suppliers, EnBW, engages ABB to modernize its ageing electrical infrastructure at its German power plant in Altbach.

Collaborative retrofit project key to reliable energy supply for Stuttgart
  • Close collaboration between ABB Electrification Service experts and EnBW ensures timely project execution and prevents disruptive downtime
  • Upgrading more than 1,000 draws in 120 cubicles across five switchgear rooms in only 10 weeks; that was the focus of an electrical infrastructure modernization project for one of Europe’s largest energy companies, EnBW, at their Altbach energy plant in Stuttgart, Germany.
  • To deliver against such a comprehensive scope in a tight timeline, EnBW engaged the support of ABB to install and commission its latest low-voltage, digital switchgear solutions at the plant, which contributes to an electrical output of approximately 1,200MW.

Nhat Linh Hohn-Phung, project manager at EnBW Altbach, explains: “We recognized that we needed to do something about our low-voltage switchgear. Our existing MNS2.0 system was of an early generation and there was a shortage of spare parts, which of course meant a serious risk of disruptions in energy supply.”

Rather than investing in a completely new switchgear, a cost-efficient upgrade to ABB MNS 3.0 in combination with ABB UMC 100.3 motor controllers, meant the customer could integrate new intelligent systems and components inside the existing MNS switchgear that enable interconnectivity, smart automation and improved condition monitoring.

This modernization approach ensured that the critical levels of efficiency in energy production were maintained, while retaining much of the switchgear which was still fully functional, boosting the plant’s the overall safety, sustainability and predictability.

“More than 50 percent of electrical equipment like metal cabinets for switchgear, steel plates and busbars can be used perpetually without being replaced if outdated components such as circuit breakers, relays and internal components are upgraded, regularly monitored and maintained,” explains Axel Siebert, Project Manager for ABB Electrification Service.

“This approach also saves costs and time associated with a switchgear upgrade as only the system related components are replaced. Keeping most of the system in service and only replacing the necessary components, increases equipment reliability and durability, extends its lifespan and avoids the carbon emissions associated with manufacturing entirely new systems.”

However, the success of the project relied on more than just market leading technology. Indeed, more than 12 months of planning ahead of the implementation phase, involving close collaboration across teams within ABB and with key contacts at EnBW, sat at the heart of the flawless project delivery.

Siebert, continues: “A project of this scale meant meticulous planning and coordination, drawing on the expertise of our service technicians in Germany and beyond to ensure that we delivered a quality solution as efficiently as possible. The outcomes really do speak for themselves.”

As a result of the upgrade, EnBW has benefited from improvements in safety and energy security, with operational downtime minimized. They have also experienced a significant reduction in OpEx costs, driven by improved reliability and spare part availability, something which was becoming increasingly challenging with the previous, obsolete systems.

Siebert concludes: “MNS 3.0 in combination with ABB UMC 100.3 motor controllers is really delivering for EnBW. It works well in existing installations and is designed as a direct retrofit solution for legacy MNS systems. 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. For this project it really was the ideal choice.”

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