With a total nominal production capacity of 700 MWth, the Amsterdam district heating network, operated by a Dutch Energy Company, is one of the most modern in Europe. Since the late 1980’s, SPIT electrical mechanics has successfully completed several retrofitting projects at the pumping stations on the district heating network. More than 75 AC drives with a total power of 10 MW currently control the hot water distribution.

As the operator of two heating plants with a total nominal production capacity of 700 MWth, the Energy Company is one of Europe’s most efficient producers and distributors of thermal energy, supplying heat to more than 75.000 households across the Amsterdam area. The distribution network consists of several hundreds of kilometer of hot water pipes.

Late 2014 the company decided to start to modernize the distribution system, with a special focus on the pumping stations. The goal was to replace the existing – obsolete – Siemens technology, with a modern solution based on AC drive technology in a low voltage network. SPIT electrical mechanics was chosen as the general contractor and engineering company to design a customized solution that would meet the needs of the Amsterdam heating plant. The challenge was to execute the whole project within five weeks from order to commissioning before the start of this year’s heating season.

SPIT electrical mechanics chose its long-term partner ABB, to supply the AC drives to control the circulation pumps used for the hot water distribution. SPIT electrical mechanics has installed and commissioned AC drives in the power range from 0,18 kW to 4 MW. The ABB ACS880 drives are run independently in a multi-pump application driving several pumps in parallel, controlled by the pressure in the system.

At the same time, an automation system is being installed at the district heating plants – plant by plant. To meet customer requirements, SPIT electrical mechanics developed software for redundant communication, based on the ABB ACS880 Drive-to-Drive link concept. Richard Veldhuis, Sales Manager of SPIT electrical mechanics explains: “Once the drive system at a plant has been installed, the fully automated process changes the software and parameters in the ABB ACS880 drive on demand and it starts to communicate redundantly with the upper-level automation system.”

Significant energy savings

The ABB drives control the hot water recirculation pumps across the distribution network in accordance with actual needs, and this has resulted in significant energy savings and lower operating costs. The SPIT  solution also improves operational reliability, reduce the strain on equipment and double the operating life of the pump.

In district heating networks, the operational stability of pumping stations is a key issue. “When needed, we support the Amsterdam district heating plant by providing service, spare units and regular maintenance of the drives in accordance with the manufacturers instructions,” adds Mr. Veldhuis. Reliable operation without unplanned service shut-downs also brings cost savings.

Positive experiences

The energy company is satisfied with SPIT’s performance in project execution and maintenance, as well as with the benefits from the ABB AC drives in terms of savings and improved process reliability. “The systems delivered by SPIT are excellent. We highly appreciate the technical excellence and friendly, helpful support locally in Amsterdam, which is available promptly whenever needed. That is what distinguishes SPIT from the competition,” says the Project Manager of this company.

SPIT electrical mechanics provides a complete range of drive and automation solutions for industry, energy systems and infrastructure and produces IT systems for better production management. Founded in 1937, SPIT electrical mechanics is headquartered in Almelo, the Netherlands, and furthermore two service facilities in the middle and western part of the country.