ABB wins fast-track substation contract in Scotland

Compact indoor installation with latest gas insulated switchgear (GIS) will connect hydro-electric power to the transmission grid

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has been awarded a fast-track turnkey project by Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD), the company responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.5 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland, to construct the replacement for the Sloy 132 kilovolt (kV) substation that serves a large area of Western Scotland as well as providing the grid connection for the most powerful hydro-electric power plant owned by SSE, the second largest energy supplier in the United Kingdom. The use of ABB’s state-of-the-art high-voltage gas insulated switchgear (GIS) technology will enable the new substation to be constructed within a compact, low profile granite-clad building designed to blend in with its surroundings in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.

The Sloy project, which is part of SSEPD’s ongoing UK asset replacement programme, is ABB’s first significant substation project for SSEPD in Scotland, and follows the successful delivery of indoor substations at Reading and Iver Heath in England. The contract will be managed from ABB’s East Kilbride office, which opened earlier this year to provide a centre of excellence for power infrastructure projects in Scotland.

The existing 14-bay Sloy substation, based on outdoor air insulated switchgear (AIS) technology, has reached the end of its 40-year design life. SSEPD is now replacing it to ensure the reliability and continuity of its power network, especially with plans to upgrade the Sloy hydro-electric plant to a pumped storage facility capable of supplying 100 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year.

ABB will build the new indoor GIS substation alongside the existing AIS substation as well as installing 7 kilometres (km) of 132 kV cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) insulated cable to connect the switchgear with the overhead line circuits. Sympathy for the local environment is an integral theme for the project, so the building will be clad with granite tiles. Furthermore, when the project is completed and all the circuits have been transferred over, the old substation will be demolished and the site landscaped and restored to its natural condition.

The fast-track nature of the project calls for the substation building to be ready to accept the GIS by March 2013 for handover by the end of 2013. This requires careful logistical planning to enable working throughout the winter months in a remote area of Scotland accessible only by a single private road.

‘We are delighted to have been awarded this major contract by SSEPD for our first substation construction project with them in Scotland. This success is based on the way SSEPD and ABB have engaged from the very early stages to develop the ideal, cost-effective approach, as well as the excellent track record we have established on previous SSEPD projects,’ said Jon Downs, ABB’s UK General Manager, Utility Substations. ‘Furthermore, Sloy will be an ideal example of how compact GIS technology enables the creation of low impact substations in even the most environmentally sensitive locations.’

ABB ( 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.

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