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News

Ensuring power in storm season

ABB Automation Technologies : 19 March, 2007  (Company News)
ABB will protect the island of Barbados from hurricane blackouts with underground transmission cables. Barbados lies in a hurricane belt in the Caribbean, where underground power cables by ABB will soon provide a hurricane-safe transmission grid, more space for future road work, and reliable, maintenance-free transmission for more than 40 years.
Moreover, underground cables are a prettier option for a popular tourist destination like this one, and also avoid the environmental impact that is possible from overhead wires and their supporting foundations.

The decision to bury power cables was not based on aesthetic concerns in this tourist mecca, but on difficulty ensuring reliability, insurance and space for overhead systems.

'Severe storms like hurricanes are generally the most frequent cause of power blackouts,' says Kristian Bergman of the Barbados office of ABB High Voltage Cables.

In Barbados, the move toward underground transmission actually began in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew caused $25 billion damage in the state of Florida and made it difficult for small islands like Barbados to get hurricane insurance.

Although the island seldom sustains a direct hit from a hurricane, it has been known to catch their tail-ends in some dramatic tropical storms. When widespread outages resulted after the eye of Hurricane Ivan passed over the island, concerns for reliable power were reinforced.

Increasing demand
Peter Williams, chief operating officer at Barbados Light and Power, says the utility began building indoor substations following Andrew and, ultimately, adopted a more-reliable underground system by ABB to help fill increasing demand for electricity in the north end of the 431-square-kilometer island.

Ivan was a category-4 hurricane with sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour when the eye passed over Barbados in Sept, 2004. The resulting power outage was almost island-wide.

The world's leading maker of power networks, ABB will provide 132 kilovolt and 24 kV cables, civil works and installation in an $18 million contract.

Williams says the cost of underground transmission at first appeared too high, but “the gap narrowed considerably” when he factored in long-term costs of repairing overhead wires after wind storms, salt water and falling trees, and fortifying the towers and foundations against hurricanes.

Cables and accessories from ABB production units in Sweden made the 8,000 kilometer journey to Barbados for installation this summer. The system is scheduled for completion within a year.
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