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NamPower awards R100-million contract to ACTOM Energy Namibia for new indoor 132/66/33kV substation in Swakopmund

ACTOM Energy Namibia (AEN) has been awarded a R100-million contract by Namibia Power Corporation (NamPower) to design, manufacture, supply, install and commission specialised switchgear and substation protection and automation systems for a new indoor 132/66/33kV substation the utility is to establish in Swakopmund, Namibia.

The new Sekelduin substation, due to be completed in early-2025, is being constructed to meet increased demand for power resulting from rapid growth of the coastal city and surrounding areas and to cater for future expansion in the region.

With the exception of the transformers, all the substation equipment will be supplied by ACTOM group divisions and business units, namely ACTOM High Voltage Equipment, ACTOM MV Switchgear and ACTOM Protection & Control.

“NamPower initiated the construction of a substation building on the outskirts of Swakopmund to house all the substation equipment to protect it from the salty air blowing in from the ocean, which would cause corrosion and deposits of coastal pollution were it to be erected in a conventional open yard substation,” explained Struan Steele, AEN’s General Manager.

Consequently, the 132kV and 66kV switchgear from GE Grid, ACTOM High Voltage Equipment’s international technology partner, will comprise hybrid equipment in which air-insulated switchgear (AIS) and gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) are combined into single switchgear units that are much more compact than the equivalent AIS units normally used in open air substation yards.

This HV switchgear, branded HyPact, is well-proven and widely used worldwide in similar applications. A total of 11 HyPact switchgear units, comprising six 132kV units and five 66kV units, will be supplied by GE Grid to the project.

The 33kV switchgear for the new indoor substation will comprise a 4-panel switchboard of type GHA single busbar GIS switchgear from Schneider Electric, ACTOM MV Switchgear’s international technology partner.

This product is already widely in use in South Africa and many other African countries. MV Switchgear will assemble the switchboard, as well as design, manufacture and assemble the LV compartments for the panels, at its Knights, Germiston, plant.

The protection, automation and control scheme to be supplied by ACTOM Protection & Control (P&C) will provide the necessary protection and control of the HyPact switchgear units and the GHA switchgear panels. The scheme is designed and manufactured by P&C utilising product and services from leading US-based international company Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL).

The scheme, based on the international standard for communication between the primary plant and the substation IED’s, namely IEC61850-9-2, came into effect in 2005 and has been in use in NamPower substations since 2009. It utilises an Ethernet network and replaces the traditional analogue cabling between the protection and metering IED’s and the primary plant comprising current and voltage transformers as well as circuit breakers and switches.

The chief advantages of substation automation and communication equipment based on this standard are:

  • Replacement of all substation cabling with a fibre optic LAN, with associated cost savings.
  • Establishment of redundancy, which have proved difficult with analogue cabling.
  • Flexibility in the design and maintenance of the automation system throughout the life of the substation.
  • Reduction of copper cabling and the associated risk of cable theft.

P&C will collaborate with SEL in the design, manufacture, installation and testing of the substation automation system for the Sekelduin substation project.

“We are looking forward to working with Nampower and SEL to deliver on this project, which will be a first for us,” commented Herman Mare, P&C’s General Manager.

All the control cabling for the project will be manufactured and supplied by ACTOM’s long-standing associate Metal Fabricators of Zambia (ZAMEFA), based at Luanshya in the Copperbelt.

Installation and commissioning of the substation equipment will be undertaken, under supervision by ACTOM, by Megatron Engineering Namibia, a Windhoek-based Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) contractor, which AEN has previously subcontracted to install electrical equipment for various projects around the country.

The tender, issued early last year, was strongly contested between a number of electrical equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

“The preparation of our tender was of course a joint effort, in which all the ACTOM divisions involved played an important role, for which I thank them,” said Steele.

“I am especially grateful to ACTOM High Voltage Equipment for their invaluable assistance in preparing their part of the tender, which contributed greatly to our success in winning this highly prized contract,” he added.

The contract is the largest AEN has been awarded since its inception in 2013.