Compiled by Chege Moses Kasaija
Competition in the African electric power generation and distribution market demands that power plants operate efficiently and generate the maximum amount of power for which they were designed consistently and safely, thus the need for a flawless balance of plant equipment.
The demand for comprehensive electrical solutions in renewable energy plant projects is increasing. Electrical balance of plant equipment are a way to bring all of these demands together and supply one plan for the entire electrification of such projects.
Though the balance of plant equipment African market has expanded in the past few years, it needs to develop further to meet the growing power demand. This is particularly relevant for new and emerging areas, like solar and wind power plants, where these equipments have an impact on generation costs.
Normand Lord, President & CEO of Saint-Augustin Canada Electric Inc. (Stace), a world-class supplier and manufacturer of electrical balance of plant since 1977, reveals that balance of plant equipment is the arteries of the whole CPV or wind power plant and unless we take care of these regularly, we are bound to have issues and costly down times.
Based in St-Augustin, near Quebec City, Canada, Stace’s fully integrated plant, which is ISO-9001 certified, has been very active in the power generation, distribution and the electrical balance of plant market supplying all types of bus ducts and electrical equipment to the worldwide utility market for the last 35 years.
Stace’s offerings include a wide variety of designs, from isolated phase MiniFlux bus ducts to smaller Min-I-Phase® bus ducts, auxiliary equipment such as generator terminal enclosures and high current, telescopic disconnect switches, manufactured to Stace’s Six Sigma quality assurance system, easy installation and meeting all applicable safety and ISO 9001 standards.
This experience, Normand articulates, has allowed us to supply the largest self-cooled bus (28,800A) and design a bus bars specific to the wind energy market. Our bus bars for wind turbines have now been installed in more than 20,000 towers in North and South Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Bus bars for wind turbines
Stace’s renowned customized wind turbines bus bars unique designs not only improves customer value while providing reliable operations with minimum maintenance but also minimizes the electrical losses while reducing the total tower cost.
The wind turbine bus bars system is made of two three phase assemblies, each made of three high conductivity aluminum alloy tubular conductors of 3 inches outside diameter, one used for the rotor and the other used for the stator. The conductors are covered by an insulation tubing rated 600 V giving a full protection against electrical shock enclosed by a formed grounded expanded metal sheet. Aluminum clamps specifically designed to withstand a momentary short-circuit of 120 kA Peak and a short-time short-circuit of 46 kA for 1 second hold the electrical conductors, while fiberglass rings are installed to protect the insulation tubing between clamps and conductors.
We offer field supervision and installation services for new or existing self-cooled or force-cooled bus duct, Normand emphasized, by combining analysis, field testing along with years of experience and new computer aids, to not only provide unique solutions where bus temperature exceeds the standard, but also provide ampacity studies on existing equipment to help clients make an informed decision for upgrading projects.
Furthermore, Stace’s three phases, metal-enclosed, segregated and non-segregated phase busses are custom designed to meet the low and medium voltage requirements in addition to the specific continuous and short-circuit current of generating stations, substations or industrial power distribution systems.
Concentrated Photovoltaic modules and trackers
For the last decade, Stace has also been involved in the Solar market by providing customized balance of plant equipment to utilities. Last year, to complete their solar offering, they made the acquisition of Soitec Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) technology known as Concentrix™, hence becoming the technological leader of the CPV industry.
This acquisition perfectly fit into Stace’s strategy to increase its presence in the renewable energy industry. It provided an amazing window of opportunity for not only customers who want to see the CPV modules manufactured by Stace under operation, but also being recognised as the most efficient, reliable and bankable technology in the CPV market.
Besides owning and operating a 1.68 MW CPV powerplant in California, USA, Stace’s CPV technology is also installed in the world’s largest CPV power plant in TouwsRiver, South Africa with an installed capacity of 44MW providing about 23,000 homes with clean, renewable energy.
We now have a solution from the solar modules to the grid for our customers, said Normand, as we are about to complete the setup of a manufacturing line in Canada for the modules, whose annual capacity is 20MW of modules per year which could be expanded to 70MW, as we have invested more than US$25 Million dollars. It is also possible to localize part of the manufacturing activities in countries where the demand justifies it.
In addition, we are committed to continue the research and development of our solar module for the future as we are in collaboration with universities located around the world in this regard, Normand explained.
Stace CPV modules and trackers are a profitable and ecological investment. Using the Concentrix technology supported by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, based in Freiburg, Germany, STACE offers a reliable, proven, cost effective and bankable solution for solar energy generation.
Based on its innovative technologies and products, Stace provides solutions to encounter the high expectations of their worldwide customers and is already working on an additional product that will be a game changer in the energy management of solar power plants.