Voith solution helps energy suppliers to comply with grid regulations

The European energy market has been facing new challenges since the release of the new EU regulation 2016/631. To stabilize the grid, and yet help power providers avoid oversize drivetrains, Voith offers an upgraded version of the SmartSet torque limiting coupling.

A lot has changed since the European Union adopted the new grid code EU 2016/631. It obliges power providers to remain on the grid for 0,150 to 0,300 seconds to stabilize it during a fault ride-through (FRT). Gas and steam turbine generator set owners need to prove that they meet the new grid code regulation.

They have to certify their ability to withstand grid faults to avoid cascading failure in the region. The new code provided by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) reflects on that situation. The transition from centralized to decentralized power generation has caused that preventive reaction.

2017 06 26 233424Voith’s SmartSet coupling uses mechanical logic to slip during a fault ride-through, protecting the driveline from serious harm.

Limiting torque Peaks
In other words, the more small-scale producers - like solar power companies or windmills - join the grid, the weaker and more unstable it gets. Interconnected microgrids are the result.

So if an FRT occurred, the generator set’s driveline would be exposed to large torque peaks. These can damage or even destroy the complete set, and in consequence affect the overall grid situation negatively. To avoid worst-case scenarios like the European blackout in the year 2006 and be compliant with ENSTSO-E’s new grid code, generator set owners have two options: They could either scale up their drivelines which is costly and increases the size of the set, or implement a non-releasing torque limiting coupling like Voith’s SmartSet.

Stay connected to the grid
The latter solution enables the power generator to stay connected to the grid in case of a failure, both during and after its occurrence. “SmartSet protects small- and medium-size generator set’s drivelines from overloads created by an FRT,” says Håkan Westberg, Head of Product Management for Torque Limiting and Connecting Couplings at Voith in Sweden. “Not many conventional gas turbines with shear elements supporting the grid may be able to remain on it for 150 milliseconds during an FRT without a reliable upgrade. SmartSet eliminates not only the risk of gas turbine failures but also grid perturbations, and consequently increases productivity. At the same time, the user complies with the EU’s requirements and reduces their total cost of investment.”

SmartSet is based on the same technology as Voith’s SafeSet coupling; however, it is smartly developed, using a mechanical logic, in a way that gives the coupling an additional ability to slip during FRT and only to release in rare case of major failure. SmartSet, like SafeSet couplings, is not affected by fatigue or wear, giving a stable torque setting over its lifetime. Together with Voith’s Coupling Monitoring System (CMS), it is further possible to supervise and monitor the torque limiting coupling. The CMS control unit continuously calculates the slip angle and sends a signal into a monitored supervising system indicating how much the coupling has slipped.

New limiters for shaft lines
Dr.-Ing. Oliver Drubel is an expert when it comes to energy conversion. He habilitated on “Converter Applications and their Influence on Large Electrical Machines”. In his current work, Dr.-Ing. Drubel analyzes transient torques of turbine shaft lines with torque limiting couplings. Shaft lines of generator sets in power plants need to meet the requirements of the new ENSTSO-E network code. He says: “The shaft line must be designed under the consideration that an FRT is possible. Sustainable shaft lines already fulfill the requirements. Designs with SmartSet couplings need an individual shaft line calculation to determine values for the initiation of the limiters.”

This must be investigated by a process which takes into account all elements along the shaft line. Those being designed with a SmartSet coupling do not need to scale up the drive line. If this particular coupling slips during the FRT, the shaft line is available for normal operation as soon as the grid recovers. “More challenging disturbances can be handled simpler with SmartSet.” Dr.-Ing. Drubel adds.

A tried-and-tested solution
In conclusion, non-releasing torque limiting couplings such as SmartSet are of benefit for end users, packagers and OEMs alike. Especially end users benefit from SmartSet in many ways: By installing the coupling, they do not have to scale up their equipment, yet increase their productivity and be grid code compliant at the same time. Further generator sets can be retro-fitted with SmartSet without the need of any redesigning and upscaling the existing drive line components.

This application adds new features to the already existing solution. Power providers get a well-trusted mechanical device stabilizing the grid and overcoming potential instability drawbacks.

Voith Turbo
Voith Turbo, a Group Division of Voith GmbH, is a specialist for intelligent drive solutions, systems and comprehensive services. Customers from highly diverse industries such as oil and gas, energy, rail and commercial vehicles, ship technology, mining and mechanical engineering rely on the advanced technologies and solutions-driven expertise of Voith Turbo.

About Voith
For 150 years, Voith’s technologies have been inspiring customers, business partners and employees around the world. Founded in 1867, Voith today has around 19,000 employees, sales of €4.3 billion and locations in more than 60 countries worldwide and is thus one of the largest family-owned companies in Europe. Being a technology leader, Voith sets standards in the markets of energy, oil & gas, paper, raw materials and transport & automotive.


Voith at POWER-GEN Europe 2017: Reliable and innovative technologies for energy providers and plant operators

From June 27 to 29, 2017, Voith is going to present its innovative and reliable solutions for the power industry at POWER-GEN Europe 2017. This year’s show is taking place in Cologne, Germany. Its attendants will be discussing new challenges like the digital transformation, renewable energies and efficiency in gas and steam based power generation. Voith is launching its new VECO-Drive, an innovative variable speed drive.

  • VECO-Drive increases compressor and pump drive efficiency to 97 percent
  • Speed control with maximum reliability and low life cycle costs with VoreconNX
  • Smart solutions for the power industry

Highly efficient: VECO-Drive and VoreconNX variable speed drives
With the innovative VECO-Drive, Voith offers a variable speed drive, which provides both the reliability of mechanical gears and the efficiency of low-voltage variable frequency drives (VFD). More than that, it is the first member of a new product family in the field of speed control, addressing the need for high efficiency of the rotating equipment industry. VECO-Drive generates not only high output speed for compressors and pumps, but also uses a new superimposing design and increases drive efficiency of up to 97 percent. Compared to a drive train using a conventional medium-voltage VFD, VECO-Drive increases the overall efficiency by more than two percent over the speed range. Operators may consequently save more than 100,000 euros a year in operating costs.

2017 06 26 233254The new VECO-Drive variable speed drive is an innovative solution combining a mechanical planetary gear with low voltage frequency controlled servo motors.

The VECO-Drive’s basic design is a combination of a planetary gear with low-voltage frequency-controlled servo motors. These generate additional power for the drive train in high-speed operation which enables operators to keep existing main motors within a retrofit installation. VECO-Drive’s design is modular, offering individual configurations for different application types.

The principle of VECO-Drive is inspired by the Voith Vorecon variable speed drive, the Vorecon range has been expanded too: The new NX series for low-power ranges increases efficiency of up to eight percent. VoreconNX is a reliable planetary gear controlling the speed of compressors and pumps in stream applications. With its optimized torque converter, it helps the power industry save both total costs of ownership and life cycle costs. Its modular design and standardized speed control allows Voith to reduce the delivery time of VoreconNX to only six months.

2017 06 26 233325The VECO-Drive steps up input speed and generates a high output speed for compressors or pumps. Since additional power is supplied to the drive train, a smaller main motor can be used.

Wide range of coupling Solutions
With the BHS AeroMaXX technology for parallel-shaft gear units, operators reduce power loss and oil consumption by more than 30 percent. It works like this: At high-pitch line velocities of up to 200 metres per second, the oil swirls and squeezes in the gear mesh which causes power loss of high-speed turbo gear units. BHS AeroMaXX reduces these losses by separating lubrication and cooling. No additional accessories are needed due to its passive mechanical construction.

Moreover, Voith presents the SmartSet torque limiting coupling which helps protecting drivelines from torque overloads. In the moment of exceeded rated torque, SmartSet will slip and protect the driveline. For instance, it limits the torque between the generator and the turbine if a fault occurs and protects plants during overload. During an overload, the coupling slips and therefore enables continuous production and will only release in rare case of major failure. Accompanied by Voith’s monitoring system CMS 310, users get real-time status information and analyses.

2017 06 26 233358The Vorecon NX variable speed drive combines maximum reliability and economy in controlling boiler feed pumps.

The patented Hirth couplings can be used between gas turbine disks or as a connection between impeller and pinion shaft. They connect and position shafts, wheels, disks and crank in many areas of mechanical engineering – high precision is ensured. Voith also shows drive couplings that protect systems from damage under extreme operating conditions. These can be tailored to each drive system.

Make components and systems more reliable
All the technologies will be presented at Voith booth F17 in hall 8, along with other services and solutions from the Voith Hydro and Digital Solution’s portfolio: Voith enables users to make their old components and systems more reliable and increase efficiency by upgrading and retro-fitting the plant with Voith’s latest designs.

Another example of a highly reliable Voith solution is the TurCon DTc, a compact and cost-effective steam turbine controller. It is IoT ready, pre-engineered with standard software, and in consequence easy-to-use. For more information and consultation, visitors of the Voith booth may address the company’s on-site professionals along the different power sections.

2017 06 26 233424The Voith SmartSet torque limiting coupling is designed to slip in the event of an overload situation and thus enables continuous production.

You can find further information about Voith’s activities at POWER-GEN Europe 2017 here:

Voith Turbo
Voith Turbo, a Group Division of Voith GmbH, is a specialist for intelligent drive solutions, systems and comprehensive services. Customers from highly diverse industries such as oil and gas, energy, rail and commercial vehicles, ship technology, mining and mechanical engineering rely on the advanced technologies and solutions-driven expertise of Voith Turbo.

About Voith
For 150 years, Voith’s technologies have been inspiring customers, business partners and employees around the world. Founded in 1867, Voith today has around 19,000 employees, sales of €4.3 billion and locations in more than 60 countries worldwide and is thus one of the largest family-owned companies in Europe. Being a technology leader, Voith sets standards in the markets of energy, oil & gas, paper, raw materials and transport & automotive.


Siemens protects UK Power Networks' distribution grid

Siemens has received an order from distribution network operator, UK Power Networks, to equip parts of its overhead-line system with 600 Fusesaver vacuum circuit-breakers and 200 remote control units (RCU). The vacuum circuit-breakers will be installed directly on overhead cables to minimise the number of customers affected in the event of a fault. This will minimize installation and maintenance costs while significantly improving supply reliability and grid stability. "This order is an important milestone in the development of the European market for the Fusesaver," said Stephan May, CEO of Medium Voltage Systems at Siemens. "UK Power Networks is an important partner for us." It is the largest order to date for Fusesavers in Europe and the first one from the U.K. The order volume is €1.5 million.

2017 06 26 232639Headquartered in London, UK Power Networks deliver electricity in the capital, South East and East of England to approximately 8.2 million homes and businesses. The service area covers approximately 30,000 square kilometers.Distribution grids on the medium-voltage level can be installed both above ground and below ground. Many countries, such as the United States, Australia and the U.K., distribute their medium-voltage electricity using mainly outdoor distribution grids. Siemens developed the Fusesaver vacuum circuit-breaker to protect and improve the supply reliability and stability of these networks. The Fusesaver can be installed in series with existing fuses. If a temporary fault occurs, such as a lightning strike or a tree branch on the line, the vacuum circuit-breaker upstream from the fuse opens and protects it from damage. Since a fuse cannot distinguish between temporary and continuous faults, it needlessly interrupts the circuit for a long period of time in 80 percent of cases. The Fusesaver can also completely replace the fuse, as in the UK Power Networks' system. Temporary faults thus only lead to very short interruptions of the power supply. To avoid more extensive damage, the Fusesaver interrupts continuous faults until the cause of the fault has been eliminated.

"The Fusesaver eliminates the number of maintenance deployments almost entirely," said Matthew Corbridge, a network development engineer at UK Power Networks. UK Power Networks has an extensive overhead-line system in eastern and southeastern England, and there are a lot of spur lines in this system. "In our continuing efforts to reduce the number of power cuts caused by a range of factors, we needed a cost-effective solution in order to ensure a reliable power supply for customers on the main lines. The Fusesaver meets these requirements with its highly flexible scalability and its easy installation."

The Fusesaver is equipped with a wireless communication interface, over which the control and measured data can be transmitted to a PC or the control desk. This establishes the prerequisites for a smart grid. The breaker weighs 5.5 kilograms and is one of the fastest reclosable vacuum circuit-breakers on the market. It minimizes installation, operating and maintenance costs for outdoor distribution grids while increasing supply reliability and the personal safety of the grid operators.

Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world's largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of efficient power generation and power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment – such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging systems – and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. In fiscal 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016, Siemens generated revenue of €79.6 billion and net income of €5.6 billion. At the end of September 2016, the company had around 351,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at


Couple launch customer owned energy firm to challenge the big six

Britain’s newest energy company, customer-focused People’s Energy, has received its Ofgem licence.

It is a significant milestone for the ethically-minded energy firm that will give customers 75% of its profits, as the licence means People’s Energy is now legally able to enter the market and start registering customers to be supplied with gas and electricity.

2017 06 15 113434People's Energy co-founders David Pike and Karin Sode

Co-founders, David Pike and Karin Sode were so fed up with the Big Six energy firms and never-ending price hikes that they decided to offer British consumers something better. Replacing poor customer service and a lack of transparency with the chance to be part of an energy company with a difference.

People’s Energy wants to keep its customers year after year and will provide free shares to those that remain with the company. Consumers will also have a voice in shaping the company with representation on the board and salaries, decisions, accounts and prices will all be shared, meaning People’s Energy will be the first completely transparent and customer-focused energy company in the UK.

The initiative is being backed by a number of senior business people, including former chair of Gleneagles Hotel, Peter Lederer CBE and former CEO of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, John Wright.

David said: “The vision for People’s Energy is to have over one million customers, all of whom are in control of their gas and electricity and getting a percentage of the company’s profits back.

“Our company is about putting trust back into the market, currently there is very little. We want our customers to know that we have their best interests at heart and that with us they will have a say in how the company is run.”

Karin added: “Energy comes from natural resources that should belong to us all, not private entities. We are absolutely passionate about returning ownership of this natural resource to consumers.”

To date the duo has raised over £450,000 on crowdfunder from the pledges of 2000 supporters. People’s Energy will start providing energy from the beginning of August.

About David Pike, director

David originally trained as an engineer and in recent years has provided leadership consultancy to the power generation and network sectors for EDF and Scottish Power. An experienced business leader, he has led multimillion pound organisations from loss to profit.

About People’s Energy

What is People’s Energy?

In a radical new move, it will put profits and ownership in the hands of UK consumers of gas and electricity. People are fed up with being taken for a ride by large corporates, and they have lost trust in their energy suppliers (43% of consumers don’t trust their supplier to be fair, according to Ofgem). 75% of the profits will be returned to customers in an annual rebate!

How will customers own the business?

Customers receive free share ownership of the business within three years. When customers stay with People’s Energy they are given free shares which they can keep as long as they remain a customer. They can't sell the shares to someone else. People’s Energy wants UK citizens to always own their own energy supply.

How will it be democratic?

Customers will vote and shape the direction of the company. When major decisions need to be made within People’s Energy, customers will have a vote on the direction of the business.

How will it be transparent?

People’s Energy’s directors will share decisions, accounts, our salaries and wholesale energy costs openly. Together, the staff and customers will change the way that resources that naturally belong to the public are distributed among them. Power in consumers’ hands – no less, no more.

Is it green?

Green is very important to us and we will offer real renewable options to our customers. Over time, we will invest in local renewable energy generation too.


GridZupport meets the need for digital and sustainable solutions for the power industry

Former ABB colleagues Eitan Frankental and Magnus Lindström saw a gap in the market, and an important need to meet. They started GridZupport with ABB veteran Carl-Johan Linér. The company develops digital solutions that coordinate information for power stations. This gives the customer a better overall picture, safer operation and increased productivity – all which contribute to a sustainable environment.

There is a wealth of information in the industry, like plans, reports, analyzes and notes. But the information is stored in separate islands, and in many cases documented on paper. Through a modern digital system, information can be stored and coordinated in a more effective way. Customers gain a clear and continuously updated overview of the power station's status.

2017 06 15 111059“Our solution creates better conditions for more efficient processes, and to switch to a condition-based maintenance instead of time-based. Digitisation means that the number of interruptions is reduced, the operation becomes safer and more efficient, which means that productivity is increased,” says Eitan Frankeltal, Managing Director.

GridZupport’s system for digital solutions enables relevant information to be stored efficiently, and to always be available for making well-informed decisions. It gives both energy and resource savings – and on the whole, a better business performance.

“This is an exciting business area, where small and fast entrepreneurs can change the future of the power industry. The field of digital improvements is especially interesting for businesses in this kind of traditional environment,” says Carl-Johan Linér, partner and chairman of the board.

“The system with digital solutions is already in operation at a number of power utilities in Sweden. During 2017, the system will be offered globally,” explains Magnus Lindström, who is responsible for the development of the system.

Andreas Stubelius, responsible for business development at the Swedish Energy Agency, confirms the changes that the power industry faces. He believes that GridZupport is part of the digital revolution that has started in the industry, and whose offer will be in great demand now when the market begins to mature, parallel to the large need for energy efficiency.

“Digitisation means that a whole new world opens up in an industry that virtually stood still for 60 years. Entrepreneurs like GridZupport are needed to bring about a healthy change in the industry's operating efficiency. Global power companies can’t keep up with the pace of innovation, and our Swedish entrepreneurs are needed to drive development.

VB Elnät, one of GridZupport’s customers, has already noticed a significant improvement with the digital solution in the transition to a more condition-based maintenance.

“With the digital tools we’re getting a better overview of our facilities, and can deploy resources for maintenance and supervision when they’re really needed. I expect a 20 percent cost savings already in 2017,” says Peter Ydersten, Managing Director of VB Elnät.

“There’s a lot of talk about the industrial 4.0 revolution and the Internet of Things, that is, products that communicate with each other and with people. It's the future. Our goal is to drive the digital evolution forward – helping power utilities and companies in the petrochemical, paper, steel, and oil/gas industries,” concludes Eitan Frankental.