Eskom has awarded a R28 million contract to Actom Protection & Control (P&C) in conjunction with its international automation technology partner Alstom Grid to upgrade the Energy Management System (EMS) at its data and energy centre in Simmerpan, Germiston.
Eskom monitors and controls transmission and supply of electricity via the national grid throughout South Africa through an advanced EMS system that was designed and supplied by P&C and its technology partners and commissioned in 2008. P&C has since also provided ongoing maintenance of the EMS system.
In 2011 Eskom decided to construct a new building, designated the Data & Energy Centre, to house the EMS at Simmerpan that requires migration and upgrade of the current EMS system to the latest version, eterraplatform 3.0.
“Both the current system and the upgrade will run in parallel during implementation of the upgrade to ensure that the security of the power system is maintained throughout the process of transferring the operation of the network to the new location,” Marius van Rensburg, P&C’s sales manager, protection products and systems.
The contract, awarded to P&C and Alstom Grid in March 2013 for completion in November 2014, covers supply and installation of eterraplatform 3.0, which incorporates the latest technological advances in this field.
“The upgrade is a comprehensive process that involves replacing the existing software with the latest programs that have been developed since the existing EMS system was installed five years ago, as well as upgrading much of the existing automation hardware,” Van Rensburg says.
A major requirement of Eskom is the long-term stability and upgradability of the system. “The ongoing contract for the maintenance and support of the system includes not only technical support, but also the means for Eskom to do incremental upgrades of the system as improvements and new developments become available. This has allowed Eskom to keep the system current. However, in the development of such a product you reach a point where a major upgrade of the software – and in some instances the hardware – is necessary to keep pace with the rapid developments in the field, especially in the smart grid environment.
“This is the point which has been reached with the upgrade we are now undertaking with the new contract,” Van Rensburg says.
“In the original contract for the present EMS system, we undertook as part of that contract to train Eskom’s technical personnel to perform most of the engineering work involved, including testing, which has made them largely self-sufficient in running and maintaining the system on a day-to-day basis. The same arrangement applies with the new contract.”