ABB has won an order worth more than $30 million from Société Nationale d'Electricité (SNEL), the national electricity company of DRC, for a partial upgrade of the Inga-Kolwezi high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power transmission link.
The contract is part of the FRIPT project financed by Glencore and managed by Congo Energy, a subsidiary of Forrest Group International. The link transmits power from the Inga hydropower station on the Congo River to the mining district of Katanga in the south-east of the country. It also exports the excess power to the Southern African Power Pool countries.
The 1,700-km link was originally built by ABB in 1982 and was, at the time, the world’s longest transmission line. ABB upgraded the link in 2009, installing new thyristor valves, high-voltage apparatus and its MACHTM control and protection system. ABB’s advanced MACH system, supports the company’s ABB AbilityTM based digital offering and acts like the brain of the HVDC link – monitoring, controlling and protecting the sophisticated technology in the stations, managing thousands of operations to ensure the reliability of power supply.
ABB has now been entrusted to carry out a refurbishment that will boost transmission capacity, enhance grid reliability, extend life span and ensure the efficient transmission of hydro-electricity across the region. The retrofit will make it possible to increase transmission capacity from 520 MW to 1000 MW, securing power supplies to the mining region in Katanga and strengthening the power infrastructure in the DRC. ABB’s project scope includes system studies, supply of key equipment such as high voltage apparatus and commissioning.