Belgium Awards ABB US$35 Million Contract To Strengthen Wind Integration

ABB to help increase the integration of wind power into Belgium's grid by supplying switchgears and shunt reactors.
Published: Fri 20 Feb 2015

ABB, a leading power and automation technology group, won US$35 million (€31 million) contract from Belgian electricity transmission system operator Elia for gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) and shunt reactors, helping stabilize and expand the country’s power grid to accommodate its ambitious wind energy plans.

Increasing transmission efficiency

ABB’s gas-insulated switchgear will help control, protect and isolate electrical equipment to boost the reliability of Belgium’s power supply. The shunt reactors increase the energy efficiency of power transmission by improving power quality and reducing transmission costs.

Elia is undertaking the Stevin project, including a new 47km, double 380kV high voltage line between cities of Zomergem and Zeebrugge, because its existing 150kV grid is no longer sufficient to sustain the country’s and region’s electricity demand. This will enable offshore wind power to be brought on land and transmitted to the domestic market. The increased capacity will also support power flow over a subsea DC connection between the United Kingdom and Belgium.

“ABB’s latest GIS is extremely compact and offers high reliability and safety while minimizing environmental impact,” said Bernhard Jucker, president of ABB’s Power Products division. “We are pleased to support the integration of renewable energy and help strengthen the Belgian grid.”

As part of the order scope, ABB will design, supply and commission 420kV gas-insulated switchgear and 130MVAr shunt reactors to be installed in three 380kV substations.

The Elia Group comprises of Elia Transmission in Belgium and 50Hertz Transmission, active in the north and east of Germany. Ranked among Europe’s five largest transmission system operators, it is a key player in developing the European electricity market and integrating renewables.

North Sea delivering clean electricity

Once completed, Stevin will form the grid backbone between the Belgian coast and its inland regions. It will help Belgium reach its goal of generating 13% of energy needs from renewables by 2020 by facilitating integration of offshore wind power. It will help integrate Belgium's growing offshore capacity, which currently sits at 706MW.

There are plans for a further six projects, totaling 1.6GW, to be online by 2022. These include Mermaid, Northwester 2, Seastar, Rentel, Norther and Belwind 2. The new projects will take Belgium's total capacity to over 2.5GW by 2022. Once all the windmills are there, the North Sea will deliver as much as 50% of the total annual household electricity, says secretary of state for the North Sea Bart Tommelein.

The secretary of state also hailed the job opportunities the offshore sector creates. By building these offshore projects, 20,000 new jobs would be created, with 800 permanent jobs needed during the projects' lifetimes.