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When ABB delivered Latin America’s first digital substation in Brazil in 2018, Enel Green Power took note. The company, a global leader in the green energy sector, decided to digitalize its assets operations and processes to improve energy efficiency, lower maintenance costs and increase its use of sustainable solutions. The enhanced accessibility to on-site signals and data allows the company to speed up informed decision making and develop real-time solutions to cope with the energy fluctuation in solar irradiance due to cloud movements.
In this strategy, ABB’s digital substation seemed to fit perfectly. Working closely with the customer, ABB proposed various design and engineering alternatives to find the best and most cost-effective solution meeting Enel Green Power’s requirements.
Decarbonizing South America’s biggest photovoltaic plant
ABB’s substation was chosen by Enel Green Power to deliver emission-free solar power to Brazil’s 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission network from the São Gonçalo solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, the largest solar PV in South America, located in Piauí, northeast of the country. This is the world’s first digital substation for the 500 kV alternating current rating.
The first section of the plant, which has 475 MW, started producing energy in January this year. When fully operational, it will be able to generate more than 1,200 GWh per year, eliminating more than 600,000 tons of carbon emissions a year.
PV power is booming in Brazil. Installed capacity is expected to reach 3,000 MW at the end of this year, up 50 percent from 2018. According to ABSOLAR, the Brazilian PV industry trade association, this equates to $1.3 billion of investment in the country’s economy, translating into 15,000 jobs. Given the situation, today’s grid operators require digital solutions to deal with the increasing amount of intermittent renewable and distributed energy sources being integrated into the grid.
What is a digital substation?
ABB’s digital substations provide customers greater control and reliability. They use digital data communications to continuously transmit operation and asset condition data, allowing faster and more reliable decision-making. They help to simplify the implementation of condition-based, predictive maintenance strategies through the application of remote diagnostics and service. With the use of fiber-optics instead of copper cables, ABB’s technology enables safer substation operations, reduced installation time and a reduction in the total cost of ownership.
ABB delivered the world’s first digital substation in 2009. It has delivered more than 30 since then to utilities and industries around the world.