ABB commissions substation automation system for world’s largest thin-film solar plant

MicroSCADA Pro and RTUs to enhance reliability and reduce maintenance costs

ABB has just announced the commissioning of a MicroSCADA Pro substation automation system installed in 2011 at the Lopburi photovoltaic solar power plant in central Thailand. The system integrates the plant's photovoltaic panels, inverters and meteorological sensors.

In addition to the MicroSCADA system, which monitors and controls the electrical systems in the plant and the power feed into the grid, ABB also provided a total of 29 RTUs (remote terminal units) and additional communications components that enable the plant's systems to send and receive information from the local grid.

With a capacity of 73 MW (direct current), Lopburi is the largest solar plant of its kind in the world. Its more than 500,000 thin-film panels cover an area equivalent to 250 football fields and produce enough electricity to supply up to 70 thousand households in Lopburi province, 150 km north-east of the Thai capital, Bangkok.

The protection and control systems installed by ABB will ensure smooth operations at the plant by providing information on conditions in the internal network, as well as in the local grid. This enables the fast identification and correction of disturbances, reducing the incidence and duration of outages, and reducing maintenance costs. By maximizing reliability, the system also helps Lopburi's operators to enhance productivity and enables them to comply with the regulatory requirements of the power utility, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

Thailand is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, a large portion of which are imported, so the commissioning of Lopburi is an important step for the country. During the plant's
25-year life span, it is expected to avoid the production of 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and cut fuel imports by more than 35,000 tonnes per year. The plant will make a significant contribution to the Thai government's aims to generate 20 percent of the country's electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

About the Project

The Project is a solar power project involving the development, construction, ownership, operation and maintenance of a 55 MW AC (net) PV solar power plant and its associated facilities by Natural Energy Development Co. Ltd (NED). The Project comprises arrays of solar PV panels, mounting structure, inverters, electrical systems, power monitoring and control units, ancillary equipment and an administrative building. It will sell the generated electricity to EGAT in accordance with SPP PPA.

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