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Partners in power: a special protection system for Belgium

The deadline was daunting. To avoid an energy shortfall, Elia—Belgium’s transmission operator—and SEL’s Engineering Services had only ten months to design, build, and test a special protection system (SPS) to manage the Elia power system and integrate new offshore wind turbines. “Normally, a project like this would probably take a year and a half or even longer,” said SEL’s Milind Malichkar. “A lot was riding on the project. There was a sense of urgency, and we all understood this.”

Weeks of planning between the partners provided the engineering specifications to move forward. SEL employees began a concerted effort to produce the necessary equipment, with international shipping times a constant threat to the already tight deadline. At SEL’s Pullman, Washington, headquarters engineers conducted rigorous testing under field conditions. This was also the first time that SEL’s Engineering Services had integrated software-defined networking (SDN) into an SPS project—a robust and secure solution necessary for such critical infrastructure.

Final assembly, testing, and delivery of the SPS occurred as seamlessly as the initial planning. The SPS was energized, and now miles of offshore wind turbines supply renewable electric power to Belgium and the United Kingdom. “This is only a first step,” said Rodolphe Hanuise, Elia’s project manager. “The SPS allowed us to dream bigger by opening the path to even more green energy integration in the future.” 

Read the full story for more details on the project’s implementation.