From protection relays to turnkey solutions for automation and control of power grids
The electricity and energy network market is going through a phase of profound change: the carbon neutrality goals set by nations and the European Union by 2050 require a rethink of energy management and new strategies to ensure a sustainable energy mix.
Thytronic, aware of the challenges posed by the market, has decided to venture into the world of automation and control systems for transmission networks. Gianpietro Freddi, Head of Energy Automation at Thytronic, tells us how the project was born.
"At the end of 2017, together with Mattia Fiore, owner of Thytronic, after careful evaluations and drawing from decades of experience in the field of protection systems, we decided to approach Terna as potential suppliers and thus begin the qualification process."
The opportunity to start the lengthy qualification process arose after Thytronic invested in the integration of two companies into their group: IGrid, a Spanish company based in Barcelona specialized in automation and control systems, providing and developing SCADA systems, remote terminal units, and gateways, and with extensive expertise in major communication protocols; and Ele.Cos, a company from Veneto specialized in system engineering.
"Backed by these investments and our expertise, we presented ourselves to Terna to be included among the providers of automation and control systems for HV (High Voltage) stations," says Freddi. The qualification by Terna was obtained the following year, along with invitations to participate in tenders for the supply of automation systems for power grids. Today, Thytronic has ongoing projects with Terna worth around 30 million euros, covering monitoring and automation systems; protection, automation and monitoring systems; as well as automation-only systems.
The monitoring system developed by Terna is specific to HV (High Voltage) stations, where an increase in monitoring capabilities is needed while keeping traditional automation systems unchanged. In this system, electrical equipment near electromechanical devices is connected to a building in the station for data computation through the LAN network. To date, Thytronic has completed the supply and installation of about ten monitoring systems in central and northern Italy.
The automation, protection, and monitoring system also include customized solutions for the automation and protection part. Thytronic is in the final stage of certification by Terna for this type of systems.
Apart from design and implementation, the installation and commissioning of these systems are the most critical phases, requiring the shutdown of stations connected to the national power grid. Freddi explains, "Thytronic provides turnkey systems to Terna and also coordinates the teams of installers already certified by Terna, ensuring management and control during the particularly complex and delicate commissioning phase."
Thytronic has always made customization and adaptation to customer-specific needs a strong point. Most of the individual subsystems that make up the technology provided to Terna are Thytronic's property, allowing flexibility and adaptability to future requirements, which is crucial in these types of projects.
Thytronic sees its future consolidating the partnership with Terna for automation and control systems, but not only that: "In addition to Terna, we also have ongoing projects for large installations by private entities under Terna's specifications. Furthermore, thanks to the acquired expertise, our experience, and a rapidly growing organization, we can consider exporting the developed technologies abroad in the near future," concludes Gianpietro.