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History Of The Power Substations

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Figure 1: Three generations of transformer substations

Figure 1: Three generations of transformer substations

Early transformers were located at the top of pylons and could achieve powers of up to 1000kVA. Column-type transformer substations provided the interface between overhead and underground networks. These were equipped essentially with air-insulated MV switchgear, a liquid- insulated transformer and a low voltage distribution switchboard.

These were fabricated from bricks, and thanks to the chimney effect provided by the column the substations had good airflow, and consequently there were no problems with overheating of the equipment.

However the next generation of substations for underground networks also built from brick, had a reduced height and no chimney effect, and for the first time the equipment designers had to confront overheating problems.

This second generation of transformer substations was also the subject of the first internal fault tests, intended to provide operating personnel and the general public with greater levels of safety. The next step was the introduction of factory assembled prefabricated transformer substations.

Figure 2: 630kVA qualified by EDF, validated against internal faults in the air and easily integrated into buildings.

Figure 2: 630kVA qualified by EDF, validated against internal faults in the air and easily integrated into buildings.

This third generation of transformer substations were subject to the first international regulations. These substations were characterised by the use of more compact, environmentally insensitive equipment, factory assembled and standardised which means that Utilities can be supplied with series produced products, the production and performance of which are guaranteed by the tests carried out by the manufacturers in accredited laboratories.

For the third generation substations the first Utility specifications demanded small surface areas, leading to a standardised layout of the substations (Figure 1).

This enclosure can be metallic, GRC (Glass Reinforced Concrete), GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic), SFRC (Steel Fibres Reinforced Concrete). The world wide trend is for reinforced concrete enclosures for the following reasons :

  • Improved mechanical strength
  • Reduced effect of solar radiation
  • Reduced condensation
  • Improved fire behaviour
  • Weathering
  • Improved aesthetic.

Finally, a fourth generation of transformer substations (Figure 2) has recently appeared, where the detailed technical specification has been replaced by functional specification.

AUTHORS: Thierry CORMENIER, ALSTOM-France; Robert DIDES.

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