Uwe Wehnhardt, CEO
‘Energy can neither be created nor be destroyed. But it can be transformed from one form to another,’ states the law of conservation of energy. Although this law implies that energy can be harnessed from different sources consistently, the increasing energy consumption rate disrupts the balance of energy production and energy utilization. This results in recurring blackouts and power shortages across many regions, especially those with thermal power plants, nuclear, lignite or cogenerations plants, which require external power to start up the production. In order to avoid this and to be able to initiate counter-measures if necessary, a high amount of energy must always be stored and made available at short notice. This is exactly what pumped storage power plants do. Pumped storage is economically and environmentally the most developed form of storing energy during base-load phases while making this energy available to the grid for peaking supply needs and system regulation. Voith, a global technology group, has adopted the technology since its conceptualization.
Voith developed its first single-stage pump-turbine configuration in 1937, which operated both as a turbine for energy generation and as a pump in the reverse direction. Since then, the company has installed close to 200 pump-turbine configurations worldwide, with a combined output of 25000 megawatts. These configurations address various specific speeds with head availability of up to 700 meters and unit capacities ranging from 10 to 500 megawatts. In addition to multi-functional turbines and pumped storage power plants, the company develops an extensive portfolio of generators, hydro automation systems, maintenance and training services, and digital solutions for intelligent hydropower. “Hydropower is already highly automated and remotely operated; at Voith, we strive to make it intelligent,” adds Wehnhardt.
Hydropower is already highly
automated and remotely operated; at
Voith, we strive to make it intelligent
The company has had numerous projects to its name that speak of its technological expertise of catering to a multitude of use cases. One of these is the contract that needed Voith to equip a new pumped storage power plant, Frades II, in Portugal. Due to the variable speed of the pump, Frades II also accounted for variable pump capacity, providing greater flexibility to the electricity grid. “It is this combination of power storage and variable pump capacity which is crucial for the integration of volatile energy sources like wind power,” explains Wehnhardt. In another project, Voith set up a pumped storage plant in Ingula, South Africa. Through this project, the company participated in the Accelerated and shared growth initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) for efficient energy, designed to allow foreign firms invest to aid the growth of local economy through sourcing products and services from local providers. Voith also took up the responsibility of training and employing the local residents to run the power plant upon completion. In addition to the establishment of this power plant, the company ensured the construction of quality roads and safety fixtures from Durban harbor to the plant location, upholdingthe safety of residents and workers.
Working with customers to incorporate technical and system-related data from power plants and infrastructures, Voith analyzes operational processes and develops self-learning models for sustained and decision making capabilities of hydro power plants.“We understand the data that is important for hydropower plant operators to achieve greater efficiency, flexibility and availability, for today and for the foreseeable future,” adds Wehnhardt. Voith continues to devote to the clean energy quest through the development of variable-speed technology and high head yielding turbines in the near future. Also, with the capabilities of intelligent hydropower plant, Voith is preparing its clients for the requirements of tomorrow.