Brussels, November 22nd, 2017 – SPIE Belgium, a subsidiary of the SPIE group, the independent European leader in multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, was tasked by Elia, Belgium’s high voltage electricity transmission system operator, to produce two 380 kV high-voltage substations: “Van Maerlant” at Damme and “Gezelle” at Dudzele, within the framework of Elia’s Stevin programme, which is aimed notably at piping energy produced by offshore wind farms inland. SPIE Belgium is currently completing production of these substations, begun at the end of 2015.
These schemes follow on from the work on producing and installing the Horta high-voltage substation, delivered by SPIE Belgium in May 2015. “Elia is highly satisfied with the priority we place on safety and with the way in which SPIE Belgium managed the installation of the Horta high voltage substation”, says the project manager, Maarten Lozie, “We resolved various problems connected with the technique or method efficiently and in a perfectly transparent and proactive way.”
Delivery of both the high voltage substations – Van Maerlant and Gezelle – is imminent, but SPIE Belgium has faced several challenges. The rapid (nine months), safe and effective completion of a GIS1 installation constituted the initial issue. “Once the GIS installation was finished, about 14 kilometres of cabling were pulled through to the Elia control room”, Maarten Lozie explains. “The 380 kV overhead lines enter the installation through 84-tonne portal structures that are 27 metres tall and 54 metres wide.” Other constraints for consideration included a restricted space, and a nearby gas pipeline.
“The size limitation complicated the completion of the 380 kV GIS installation”, explains Maarten Lozie. “Even though it was a ‘compact’ installation, each one required 76 big trucks. Unpacking, pre-assembly and final assembly work all had to be done in the same small space. ” Lastly, waste management at the site was also a daily priority. To limit the environmental impact, the decision was taken to recycle waste as much as possible. “We recycled no less than 140 tonnes of wood from packaging”, adds Maarten Lozie.
“SPIE Belgium is the right partner for carrying out such installations. In addition to the challenges already mentioned, we must not forget that production of such substations entails certain risks. Our staff members had to work at height and hoist very heavy loads in these difficult conditions”, explains Maarten Lozie. “As in all our work, we made safety our absolute priority: we therefore prepared this site right down to the smallest detail, in consultation with the safety coordinator. Our staff members continually undergo training to further improve their safety skills and safety is deeply embedded in SPIE Belgium’s DNA.”
Maarten Lozie can quite rightly feel proud of SPIE’s contribution to the Stevin programme. This is, in fact, a unique achievement, not just because of its scale, but also because this is the first time such powerful high voltage substations have been produced in Belgium. Throughout the works’ entire duration, 15 members of staff from SPIE Belgium were deployed on the ground, a number that could rise to 30 during peak periods of activity.
1 Gas-insulated switchgear