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Article Date: 19th May 2014

ABB’s UniGear Digital Concept for Medium Voltage Switchgear is Ready for the Smart Grid Age

Power Factor Correction - Power Systems - Energy Management Systems

ABB UniGear

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has launched a new Unigear Digital concept for its well established UniGear line of medium voltage switchgear. UniGear Digital takes ABB’s popular switchgear to the next level, ready for the coming smart grid era.

An innovative solution combining protection, control, measurement and digital communication, the UniGear Digital panels are designed to enable a safe, flexible, eco-efficient and smart electrical network that can deliver power reliable and efficiently. The difference to earlier models is that state-of-the-art digital current and voltage sensors are integrated into each panel, alongside ABB’s multifunctional Relion IEDs (Intelligent Electronic Devices), which ensure compatibility with the IEC 61850 digital communication protocol.

This combination is designed to perform a central role in medium voltage smart grids, with the Relion 615 range providing the backbone of the UniGear Digital communication concept.

Save time
Because it packages switching and communication functions together, the new generation of switchgear offers a 30 percent shorter delivery time together with easier purchasing, engineering, installation and commissioning.

In one move, the digital offer has removed a whole raft of complexity, with its associated long lead times, risk and cost. Using IED connectivity packages, it’s quick and easy to connect the digital switchgear to a customer’s SCADA system.

Furthermore, because UniGear Digital’s interface is based on the Relion range, switchgear operators are able to adapt readily to the user-friendly human machine interface (HMI).

Better operational performance
From an operational perspective, the digital switchgear represents increased substation availability and equipment safety.

The new UniGear Digital panels meet the highest requirements for peer-to-peer GOOSE (Generic Object Oriented Substation Event) communication, which is faster than systems that use the traditional hardwired approach. Constant supervision of peer-to-peer communication links between panels ensure that switchgear trips quickly and reliably following an event.

The IEC 61850-9-2 LE process bus is also used by IEDs for transmitting sampled measured values (SMVs). UniGear Digital uses it for sharing busbar voltages, for example.

Remote connection via an ethernet interface means that it is possible to reconfigure an IED or carry out monitoring remotely, avoiding the need for a site visit.

Future proofing
As demand grows, the new digital panels can be plugged in to extend and upgrade substations ready to be part of a smart grid, using the concept of interoperability under the IEC 61850 standard. This means that UniGear Digital is built for flexibility, scalability, modification and expansion without the need for complex additional wiring.

While the UniGear range includes switchgear for single level, double level and double Busbar solutions, the UniGear Digital concept is currently available exclusively as an option for the popular UniGear ZS1 up to 17.5 kV, which has applications in utilities, industry, marine, transport and infrastructure settings.

ABB plans to extend the digital concept to the entire UniGear portfolio as demand for smart grid-ready technology grows.

UniGear Digital – key advantages

Safe and reliable

  • Fewer live parts and insulating components

  • Extended communication supervision functionality

  • Flexible towards grid disturbances
Simple and efficient

  • 30 percent quicker delivery time*

  • Fewer variants with only one voltage and two current sensors needed

  • Easier installation, commissioning and testing
Intelligent and ready for the future

  • Based on IEC 61850 communication protocol

  • Ready for the evolution of the smart grid

  • Simple switchboard extension and integration
Lower environmental impact

  • Less energy consumption up to 250 MWh**

  • Reduced switchgear footprint, no metering panel needed

  • Savings of up to 150 tons of CO2**
* compared to a conventional UniGear ZS1

** compared to a conventional UniGear ZS1 substation of 14 feeders, over 30 years operation

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