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Featured Video - ABB Power Quality - 9th September 2013

Powering one of New Zealand’s most Popular Tourist Attractions

Helping to improve the power quality for Wellington's cable car system

ABB has supplied a 100 kVAr PCS100 Reactive Power Conditioner (RPC) to improve the power quality for the electrical drive system that powers the cable cars in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.

This project achieved many unique milestones. It was the first PCS100 RPC installed in New Zealand, the first for the public transport industry globally and the smallest footprint PCS100 product ever built.

In 2012, Wellington’s iconic cable cars celebrated 110 years of service to the city. The funicular railway is a favorite of locals and visitors alike, allowing easy access to the top entrance of the Botanic Garden and the Kelburn lookout, from the main shopping street at Lambton Quay in the central business district. The track climbs 120 meters above the city and carries almost a million passengers a year. The cars run every 10 minutes stopping at three intermediate stations as well as its terminals, which allow easy access for residents from the elevated suburbs to the city center and for students to access the Kelburn campus of Victoria University at Salamanca.

The cable cars are driven by a DC drive, which has been producing notching and harmonic disturbances on the electrical distribution network, creating a poor power factor. Now with ABB’s PCS100 RPC employed, the power factor is corrected and the low order harmonics have been mitigated.

Gavin MacIntyre, the maintenance manager at Wellington Cable Cars Ltd., said that the RPC would help improve Wellington’s cable car performance, adding that “The RPC will ensure power factor grid compliance and dampen the harmonics, which can disrupt the cable cars positioning system and relays.”

An economical solution

The PCS100 RPC has a unique modular design, which in addition to providing high reliability, will also provide additional benefits such as:
  • Preventing costly penalties due to poor-power factor or harmonics.
  • Ensuring correct operation of 3-phase rectifier loads, extending their lifetime, by correcting for voltage imbalance.
  • Lowering maintenance costs by not exposing equipment to poor quality power.
  • Eliminating the risk associated with traditional power factor capacitor correction systems such as, overheating caused by harmonic resonance problems.

Gavin MacIntyre highlighted the importance of grid compliance and explained how it was a specific business driver for the project. “Several times a journey, the cable car regenerates returning power to the grid, so grid compliance is very important to us,” he explained. Gavin verified that a capacitor-based solution would not have been financially viable and explained why for economic reasons, Wellington Cable Cars Ltd. had chosen ABB’s RPC. “We looked at a capacitor-based solution,” he said. “But with the specific usage we have, we would have to replace capacitors so often, that it would rapidly become financially nonviable.”

ABB’s PCS100 RPC is the ideal solution for improving power quality in commercial and industrial electrical installations, across a wide range of industries like the public transport industry. With power ratings from 100 kilovolts ampere reactive (kVAr) to 2 megavolts ampere reactive (MVAr), the RPC responds instantly to power quality events, while providing continuous reactive power correction.

Additional Information Relating to ABB Power Quality

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