ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won an order worth around $115 million from Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), the country’s national power transmission and distribution operator, to provide a FACTS (flexible alternating current transmission system) solution enhancing the reliability of the transmission grid that feeds major railway interconnections. This is the biggest FACTS order received by the company.The order was booked in the third quarter.
Increasing concern for the environment, rapid urbanization, and the need to move more people and freight faster, makes rail infrastructure a key component to a country’s economic success. ABB provides a wide range of reliable, innovative and energy-efficient power and automation technologies for modern urban, conventional and high-speed rail networks.
Along with smartphones and digital photography, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) publication, Spectrum named FACTS among its Top 11 technologies of the decade. IEEE is one of the world’s largest professional associations for the advancement of technology. As part of the turnkey solution, ABB will design, supply, install and commission two identical static var compensators (SVCs) at the Haramain High Speed Railway’s (HHR) 380 kilovolt (kV) substations. These installations will support the large scale railway interconnection between the cities of Mecca and Medina. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2015.
“This solution will help strengthen the transmission grid and enhance reliability of power supply to important rail links being developed in Saudi Arabia,” said Brice Koch, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “SVCs are part of ABB’s family of FACTS technologies, which help enhance the capacity and flexibility of power transmission systems and also contribute to the development of smarter grids.”
In 2011 ABB won an $85 million order to supply 380 kV indoor gas-insulated switchgear (GIS),a key component of the new substations to power the 444 km long high-speed Haramain rail line. These substations will supply electricity to high-speed (360 kph) electric trains that are expected to help transport about three million passengers annually. The railway will link the pilgrimage cities of Mecca and Medina via the King Abdullah Economic City, Rabigh, Jeddah and King Abdulaziz International Airport. The new rail line is expected to reduce traffic congestion on the roads, and will cut travel time between Medina and Mecca from six hours to two.
ABB is a pioneer and global leader in the growing field of FACTS, and has delivered more than 800 such installations across the world. FACTS technologies allow more power to reach consumers with minimal environmental impact, lower investment costs and shorter implementation times than the traditional alternative of building new power plants and transmission lines. They also help address voltage and frequency stability issues and enable the transmission system to run more efficiently.