Engineering and innovation

To introduce new technological and plant solutions, new instruments and methods aimed at improving the reliability of plants and in turn, service quality, Terna mainly uses in-house technicians who base their work on the careful monitoring and analysis of the performance of equipment and plants. Terna also uses the specialised support of manufacturers, collaboration with universities, RSE S.p.A. (Ricerca Sistema Energetico) and CESI S.p.A., a specialised service company in which it has a 42.698% equity investment. In particular, in 2012, the Terna Group incurred costs of 15.6 million euro in regards to the associate CESI.

Research on innovation and the development of new engineering solutions is organized into four categories.

AIM PROJECTS AND PROGRESS MADE IN 2012
STRUCTURE AND MATERIAL OPTIMIZATION
Designing towers with less visual encumbrance and/or better environmental integration International “Pylons of the Future” competition
Trials of real-scale prototypes was  completed and production launched for pylons to be installed on the Trino-Lacchiarella 380 kV line.
Upgrading the transmission capacity of existing lines Innovative, high-performance conductors
Qualification tests were completed and ACSS-type High Temperature Conductors installed. These are characterised by a steel carrier with very high mechanical resistance and annealed aluminium cladding.
New technology for high voltage cables Recyclable cables
A leading supplier has made a High Voltage cable available made entirely from recycled raw materials (technology already well-established for Medium Voltage). It will enable a reduction in the environmental impact of grids and, at the same time, an increase in their energy transport capacity. The launch stage involves work on laboratory testing of the prototype, and installation of a pilot on a plant under construction is planned in the first half of the year.
New test protocols for AT cables Tests for cables and compounds
A test protocol is currently being defined in collaboration with the University of Bologna for cables and the relative insulating material so as to verify the constancy of the chemical-physical characteristics required of all AT cable suppliers.
ATR Fences and Foundations Design and Unification of Fences and Foundations
Some types of station enclosures (pre-fabricated, cast in place, grating) were engineered and unified.
  • The types studied were differentiated on the basis of seismic risk and wind and on the basis of the need or lack thereof of an intruder-proof perimeter.
  • ATR Foundations. The types studied were differentiated on the basis of the level of voltage of the transformation, the size of the machine and the degree of external stresses to which the foundation is subject.
The purpose is to make a catalogue available to the company which can be used to select the best solution.
Station Layouts Station layout - Update and new arrangement
  • The layouts of Control and Auxiliary Service buildings were updated, reducing floor area and optimizing the subdivision of internal spaces.
  • New layouts were finalized for integrated buildings to be used in small Switching and Transformation stations.
  • New compact station layouts were prepared with a reduction of surface area. The development of the optimized 380 kV section is at the completion stage. Development for 220 and 150 kV voltage will follow.
EQUIPMENT DIAGNOSTICS
Station Equipment and Machinery Monitoring New sensors on equipment and machinery
In the Lacchiarella station, work has been completed on the 380 kV section, installing new types of sensors positioned on board equipment and machinery. Installation is currently under way of another type on the 132 kV section. These will be trialled with a view to potential widespread installation. Once installation of the 132 kV equipment monitoring system has been completed, (June 2013) we will have the first completely monitored Terna station.
Analysis and monitoring of line components Insulator test laboratory
A project is planned for development of an Experimental Station for the study and monitoring of surface contamination of insulators. The feasibility study permitting identification of the best sites has been concluded. Installation is planned during 2013.
Monitoring of partial discharges on High Voltage cable systems PDM (Partial Discharge Monitoring)
Systems to monitor partial discharge at joints and terminals have been installed on a number of cable connections. A comparative measurement was also carried out with a new instrument which does not need any connection to the component to be tested. Examination of the data collected is aimed at finalising a specific technique for the acquisition of such systems and at defining the criteria for installation and use to test first installation cable systems.
NEW EQUIPMENT
Compact, rapidly installable stations SCRI
Given the advantages of this solution, tested with the SCRI 150 kV, the 380 kV mobile station was also designed. The possibility of building such stations has been verified with constructors and trials are under way.
PLANT SAFETY
SicurTrafo Project Project for a system of containment barriers to protect ATRs
Development of the final project for a system of barriers used to contain power transformers (ATRs), on all four sides of the machine is under completion. The project provides for three fixed barriers and one mobile barrier, at the front, to enable the machine to be moved. The project has uniform features so that it can be used all over the country. The functional purpose of the barrier is to screen both flames and the impact of flying fragments if the transformer explodes, increasing safety in the plant. Studies have also begun to determine the applicability for ATRs of a system capable of preventing fires in the machinery in the event of serious faults.
Reduction of seismic vulnerability Application of earthquake-resistant devices to the most vulnerable equipment
A study of the seismic vulnerability of the plants is in progress in collaboration with the University of Roma Tre, focusing particularly on the equipment most at risk. The purpose of the study is to define earthquake-resistant devices to be inserted between the foundations and equipment supports in order to improve response to earthquakes.