Alstom Grid’s Valve Test Facility (VTF) in Stafford can perform all periodic fi ring and extinction tests required by the standards, as well as limited dielectric tests up to 300 kV. The new €47 million China Technology. Centre (CTC) in Shanghai focuses on UHV transmission up
to 1,200 kV AC and 1,100 kV DC, and smart grids. The facility has been designed to accommodate very large electrical equipment such as the new valves, with a UHV testing hall and R&D platforms that include scientific simulation tools, climate chamber, a temperature rise testing lab and material testing labs.
One of the most striking things about the CTC test hall is that it covers 54,000 square metres, but most of the space seems to be empty. Preedy explains why. “The equipment to be tested is extremely bulky to begin with, so you need a big building just to accommodate it. You’re testing valves weighing over 20 tonnes, suspended from the ceiling. That’s why you see those large cranes. Then you have to add the cooling equipment, auxiliary test equipment and all the cables running back to the control cubicle. And there are very stringent requirements on clearance too, several metres in each direction, including above the test object in the case of the thyristor valves, and all that requires space.” The combination of architectural requirements, safety considerations, demanding specifications for HV power supply, and the vast amount of expensive supplies and auxiliary components means that very few test facilities in the world are actually capable of carrying out full dielectric valve type-tests on large valves.
The equipment to be tested is extremely bulky.
Preedy and his team are doubly satisfied, first because the tests prove that their design is capable of operating well beyond real operating conditions, and the new thyristor valves successfully underwent testing to criteria exceeding the requirements of IEC 60700. And second because the new test facility was being used for the first time, and it too passed with flying colours.
Taking power from where it is to where it’s needed
Alstom Grid has completed manufacture and testing of the first nine (of 28) HVDC converter transformers for Brazil’s $15 billion project to harness the hydro power of the Rio Madeira, the Amazon’s biggest tributary.
The project is the cornerstone of the Brazil-Bolivia-Peru hub of the Initiative for the Integration of South American Infrastructure proposed by the governments of South America, and supported by Brazil’s National Development Bank. The Rio Madeira project, started in 2008, is designed to help the country meet growing energy needs without boosting greenhouse gas emissions.
The converter stations will be integrated into the world’s longest DC transmission line, covering 2,375 kilometres, to connect the new hydro power plants of the Madeira River (Santo Antonio and Jirau) to Brazil’s south-eastern region, which has the highest energy consumption in the country.
The Alstom Grid bi-pole converter station will allow transmission of 3,150 MW over a 600 kV DC line, and will be integrated into a much larger power transmission system, connecting the Madeira Jirau and Santo Antonio hydro power plants to the Brazilian national grid.