Collgar wind farm project selects switchgear and balance-of-plant

Power and automation technology group ABB announced it has been awarded a contract worth $4.5 million to supply power technology for the Collgar Wind Farm project, situated 25 km south east of Merredin in Western Australia.

The project is the largest single-stage wind farm development currently under construction in the southern hemisphere and will displace more than one million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to taking more than 250,000 cars off the road. With 111 wind turbines, the wind farm will generate approximately 792,000 MW hours of renewable electricity per year, enough to power more than 125,000 homes every year.

ABB will supply more than 200 custom-built Safewind medium-voltage switchgear units to be installed inside the wind turbine towers. The units will isolate and switch the 33 kV reticulation power generated by the turbine. All the live parts and switching components are protected in a stainless steel tank to ensure the highest levels of reliability and safety, as well as a long and trouble-free service life in the harsh and often inaccessible environments that are typical of wind farms.

Lead contractors Downer Engineering and Vestas Wind Systems also selected ABB to supply the electrical balance-of-plant. The facilities’ substation will be fitted with ABB’s 275 kV HV equipment, current and voltage transformer disconnectors, earthing switches, surge arrestors and 33 kV primary switchgear distribution boards, and distribution transformer for site power and auxiliary supplies.

“ABB was active in providing technical support early in the projects design phase and identified the lifecycle advantages that ABB’s new slimline 33 kV switchgear offered the Collgar project,” ABB Australia business development manager, Russell Zammit said.

“Safewind, our latest product innovation for wind farms, is only 420mm wide and small enough to fit through the narrow doorway of the turbine tower. This means it can be installed, if required, after the tower has been raised, offering operators flexibility and a more rational and economical option over the expected lifetime of the towers,” Mr Zammit said.

“Traditional wind-turbine switchgear is not known for being slender, and certainly is not capable of fitting through a standard tower door without significant disassembly and site modifications. Rather, it is installed either inside the tower base or in a small secondary substation built alongside the tower.