2012-11-29 - Retrofit provides a cost-effective fast-track route for DNOs
ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, is the UK’s first and only switchgear supplier to offer an Energy Network Association (ENA) assessed retrofit service for outdated and ageing medium voltage switchgear. This follows the successful completion of the ENA assessment process by ABB’s OEM partner, P&B Switchgear, which now enables ABB to offer distribution network operators (DNOs) a cost-effective, fast-track route to boost the Ofgem health and safety index of their legacy switchboards fitted with oil filled circuit breakers.
ABB’s retrofit policy is based on the fact that, in most cases, the original fixed switchboard equipment, such as the housing and busbars, remains in good condition, and it is only the moving circuit breaker parts, which often date back to the 1950s, that will need replacement. So, for equipment produced by British manufacturers such as GEC, Reyrolle, South Wales Switchgear, Brush and many others, ABB can offer a circuit breaker replacement solution that brings the switchboard up to modern safety and reliability standards. This approach extends its useful service life by 20 years or more, without the high costs, major disruption and extended time scales associated with a complete replacement project.
A key driver for the development of the retrofit service has been the introduction in 2010 of Ofgem’s health and safety index that rates the condition of network equipment on a scale from 5 (the lowest) to 1 (the highest), and naturally DNOs are keen to optimize their rating. In the majority of cases, retrofitting with an ABB circuit breaker will boost a switchboard initially rated at 4 to a level of 2.
ABB’s retrofit service is designed to cover the vast majority of British manufactured legacy switchgear from both ABB and other suppliers, with hundreds of retrofit and circuit protection permutations available to provide a bespoke approach. It is based on two main options: VOR-S (vacuum oil replacement with a spring operated mechanism) that is built around ABB’s well proven Vmax vacuum circuit breaker; VOR-M (vacuum oil replacement with magnetic actuator mechanism) that incorporates a P&B Switchgear solution using ABB components.
Retrofitting offers a very cost-effective overall solution compared with a new installation, with typical savings of up to 70 percent. There is also the possibility to carry out the work as staged, incremental upgrades based on operational expenditure (OPEX) rather than capital investment (CAPEX). This progressive upgrade approach can also reduce the need for system downtime as site disruption is minimized and there is no need to disturb or replace cables when retrofitting a circuit breaker.
In many cases, the retrofitting of an individual panel will take just 4 hours, while a complete switchboard could be upgraded in less than 5 working days. An added benefit is that the retrofit route can avoid the need for the total outage that would be required for a new installation.
The retrofit solution comes with the full technical support and backup of ABB’s UK-wide service team.
ABB (www.abb.com) is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people.