Research and Development

To introduce new technological and systems solutions, new instruments and methods aimed at improving the reliability of plants and, therefore, quality of service, Terna mainly uses in-house technicians who base their work on the careful monitoring and analysis of conduct of equipment and plants. Terna also uses the specialised support of constructors, collaboration with universities, RSE S.p.A. (Ricerca Sistema Energetico) and CESI S.p.A., a specialised service company in which it has a 42.406% equity interest. In particular, in 2011 the Terna Group incurred costs of €18.3 million in respect of the associate CESI of which €16 million were capitalised. The accounting treatment of Research and Development expenses is discussed in the “Intangible assets” paragraph of section “A. Accounting policies and measurement criteria” of the Notes to the financial statements of Terna S.p.A. at 31 December 2011.

Studies for the innovation and development of new engineering solutions take place in four main families of research.

Purpose Projects and progress 2011

OPTIMISATION OF STRUCTURES AND MATERIALS

Design of less bulky supports and/or improved environmental integration High-performance single-stem tubular supports

The executive design of the special strain supports for 380 kV lines has been concluded.

International “Pylons of the future” contest

The executive design phase has begun of prototypes in simple and dual circuit with the Dutton-Rosental rewarded support.

Upgrading of transmission capacity of existing lines

Innovative high-performance conductors

The experience of the INVAR-ZTAL conductors has been consolidated, characterised by a high thermal limit and reduced lengthening, useful for solving critical issues connected with distances from sensitive places.

Feasibility studies have begun for the installation of high temperature conductors of a time other than INVAR-ZTAL.

A first type of these conductors has a highly-resistant steel support and aluminium cladding.

A second type uses carbon fibre cables as a support. For these conductors, experiments are underway on the whole of the high altitude line. An experimental installation has also been realised with a carbon fibre conductor on a mountain stretch.

The study and experimental installation has been completed of an innovative conductor that limits overload by wet snow.

New technology for high voltage cables

P-Laser

The new generation HV cable (using technology that has already been consolidated on the MV), completely produced with recyclable raw materials, is currently being experimented. It will ensure a reduction in the environmental impact of grids and, at the same time, a rise in the capacity to transport energy.

EQUIPMENT DIAGNOSTICS

Advance signalling of anomalies

 

New sensors on equipment and machinery

In the Lacchiarella station, installation has been completed on the 380 kV section of new types of sensors positioned on board equipment and machinery. Installation is currently underway of another type on the 132 kV section. These will be observed in view of a potential widespread installation.

Analysis and monitoring of line components

Insulator test laboratory

A project is currently being planned for development of an experimental station for the study and monitoring of surface contamination of insulators. At present, the feasibility study has been concluded, which has enabled the identification of the most appropriate sites.

Temperature monitoring on high voltage cables

DTS (Distributed Temperature Sensing)

On the cable connections, in order to monitor and exploit transport capacity to the full, a study has begun on temperature monitoring systems available on the market with an analysis of their reliability. The technical specification for the purchase of this technology is being defined.

NEW EQUIPMENT

Reduction of space and development time of electrical stations




Compact stations with rapid installation.

Integrated compact station equipment (MCI)

This new equipment has been introduced, which, encompassing several functions in a single casing, reduces the space required to develop stations.

The installation of this new type of equipment is now consolidated in plants where more compact solutions that are quicker to develop are required.

To guarantee a rapid return to service in the event of disaster recovery, a mobile 150kV station has been designed and built, entirely mounted onto three trolleys that can be transferred to the site of use, with no need for special transport.

The mobile station has been designed in such a way that inclusion on the 150 kV line is possible quickly through a cable connection to the connector: all assembled and tested in the factory.

Given the advantages of this solution, the 380 kV mobile station has also been designed. Contact is currently being made with constructors to assess the possibility of developing it.

PLANT SAFETY

Transformer safety

New power transformer project

Due to serious failures on power transformers, a series of improvements have been made to increase safety. More specifically, polymer insulators have been installed, which better tolerate the demands and prevent the projection of fragments in the event of failure, as instead is the case for those in ceramic used as of today.

Additionally, a series of reinforcements on the casing and case will be envisaged, to be tested through “short circuit tests”, which will be carried out for each type of transformer.

Short circuit tests will be repeated on all types, as most of the previous tests date back to several years previous.