ABB helps South Africa prepare for the World Cup

15th Jun 2010
ABB helps South Africa prepare for the World Cup

South Africa is the first African nation to host the world’s premier international football tournament, and ABB has made significant contributions to tournament venues and infrastructure in several host cities.

ABB projects in Johannesburg include the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link and infrastructure at Soccer City and Ellis Park stadiums. In Cape Town, ABB has provided key installations at Green Point stadium. The upgrades and new infrastructure developments will help to ensure an efficient, safe and reliable power supply for the games.

The Gautrain Rapid Rail Link is expected to be one of the principal carriers of tourists during the World Cup, linking Johanessburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport. The 80-kilometer mass transit railway system was designed to relieve congestion in the Johannesburg–Pretoria traffic corridor by providing commuters with a viable alternative to road transport.

ABB is providing advanced traction solutions, including six substations as well as traction transformers and traction motors to power the entire line and the 24 electric trainsets, which can operate at speeds of up to 160 km/h.

The South African government hopes to stimulate new growth in its economic center with a high-speed rail link called the Gautrain. ABB products and systems are at the heart of the new rail network.


In addition to work on infrastructure and some of the principal venues, an added benefit for ABB was the opportunity to focus on one of its primary focus area in South Africa, namely skills development. As part of the project, engineers were able to transfer skills to six female interns from the Alexandra Township through an internship program.

ABB has helped address this with the delivery of 14 transformers to Soccer City stadium, located in Soweto near Johannesburg. Initially built in 1987, South Africa’s largest stadium has been renovated to increase seating capacity to 104,000 from 94,700, and to install a roof and new floodlights. With its new design inspired by traditional African pottery, Soccer City will host the opening ceremony and final, as well as eight other games.

At Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium, ABB was awarded a contract by local utility City Power to design, supply, install and commission a turnkey substation project, and supply the primary and secondary components. The power needs of Ellis Park will now be served with the construction of a new substation and the installation of new transformers, switchgear and a new switchboard to replace existing feeder protection.

In Cape Town, ABB won an order to supply 12 transformers for Green Point Stadium. An older stadium with a capacity of 18,000 was demolished to make way for this new 68,000-seat World Cup venue.

ABB supplied switchgear for the substation that feeds the stadium, which will host nine world cup matches and quarter-final and semi-final games. The contract calls for high reliability and system redundancy, and the use of locally manufactured components wherever possible. The installation includes UniGear ZS1 and Unigear switch panels, 12 “dry type” transformers that feed the stadium and help step down the voltage.

The indoor switchgear will be housed in a separate building erected for the purpose. Seven of ABB’s innovative PASS (plus and switch system) switchgear modules will also be installed. This new generation hybrid switchgear, featuring a compact space-saving design, offers increased availability, reduced maintenance and low installation and operating costs.

ABB also supplied, delivered, installed and commissioned Green Point’s main substation, and is responsible for the provision and commissioning of six substations in total: the main propulsion substation (MPS) and five autotransformer paralleling substations (APS).

The control panels for the substations – all housed in brick and mortar enclosures – were manufactured in Johannesburg, and include protection equipment and systems as well as battery backup as an integral part of the high redundancy requirement.

ABB’s low-voltage variable-speed drives are used to control all ventilation fans and critical smoke/ fire defence equipment along heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) devices at the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth stadiums. In addition, ABB’s low-voltage drives were included in the refurbishment of other stadiums, such as in Durban, because they were the only ones to meet fire requirements. The ‘Sky Car,’ a funicular that carries visitors to a viewing platform 106 meters above the pitch of Durban stadium, is controlled by ACS800 drives.


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