Fidelmar Molina
Strategic Account Manager CFE Industrial Solutions
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Innovate Technology Ensures Grid's Reliability

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 17:16

Q: Could you describe the opportunities ABB finds in the transmission and distribution segment?

A: In the past, transmission was held back by the federal budget, and CFE tried to maintain growth but fell short every year. There have been some difficulties in increasing transmission lines at the same pace as the demand. ABB is a critical partner of CFE, as 70% of the installed capacity uses ABB equipment. Our company brings the most added value and has the most presence in transmission and distribution. CENACE is in charge of planning and analyzing the regions where the future electricity corridors will be established, and we will support this process. We have developed technologies that bring stability to the grid, ensuring all participants access to a reliable network. One of these technologies is called flexible alternating current transmission systems (FACTS). In the future, we expect these systems to be continuously updated, and an expansion of the grid that results in sound reliability.

On the side of distribution, the urgency lies in eliminating energy losses. Now, CFE is investing half of the resources allocated to distribution to mitigate these losses. Smart grid technologies will also play an important part in this endeavor. We have solutions and software that optimize the assets in distribution networks called Asset Health Centers.

Q: Could you describe the competitive advantages of unique products such as FACTS and high voltage direct current (HVDC)?

A: HVDC is an important technology in transmission, since it will be the first time that it will be implemented in Mexico, and it poised to accelerate the rhythm of growth. This solution resolves several technical aspects in the National Electricity System, with the ability to isolate the effects caused by intermittent energies when they enter the grid. When solar or wind power enter the system, the alterations can be intense, so this technology works like a firewall that prevents these disturbances from impacting the grid. Another advantage is that it can transmit large quantities of electricity with fewer infrastructures, thus reducing the need for rights of way and the impact on the environments and communities. The fact that it reduces energy losses, a high-ranking task in the authorities’ agenda, makes it attractive for the government. ABB has led important HVDC projects worldwide, such as the recently awarded NSN link, which will interconnect Nordic and UK energy markets, enabling both regions to better leverage the benefits of renewable energy. Another example is the DolWin2 platform in the North Sea, which will integrate 916MW of clean wind energy into the German grid – enough to power over a million households.

Q: ABB has a historic relationship with the parastatal. How would you describe the progress of CFE’s transformation into a productive enterprise of the State?

A: CFE is making strides in mitigating energy losses, a tangible accomplishment for the parastatal. Another important development ABB is following closely is the division of CFE into different subsidiaries. This is an important step, since transmission, distribution, and power generation all have different objectives, so having individual companies will make it more competitive.

We have been strategic partners of CFE for over 70 years, and since day one we have endeavored to work on key projects. One of the systems that have gained attention is Static Var Compensators (SVC), which helps stabilize the transmission network and make it more efficient. To date, there are over 20 systems installed across the grid, and they are critical to the functioning of the system. These SVCs alleviate bottlenecks in the grid and stabilize voltage, which can otherwise be problematic.

Q: What are the competitive advantages of Gas Insulated Substations (GIS)?

A: ABB’s GIS are unmatched when it comes to compactness, efficiency, and safety. The GIS-based design minimizes the substation’s footprint by as much as 70%, enabling it to be installed indoors and in urban areas. A GIS is a high-voltage substation where the major structures are contained in a sealed environment, with sulfur hexafluoride gas being the insulating medium. Besides the advantage of reducing space requirements, GIS are less sensitive to pollution and contaminants. While the initial cost may be higher than building an air-insulated substation, the operation and maintenance costs of a GIS are considerably less.