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Renewable energy

Princess Elisabeth Antartica

Making the case for design automation

EPLAN now also in Antarctica At the request of the Belgian government, in the polar summer of 2007-2008, the I­nternational Polar Foundation started with the construction of a research station in the Antarctic. The station was given the name‚ Princess Elisabeth Antarctica‘ and provides insight into the c ­ limate mechanisms on earth. Princess Elisabeth Antarctica is the first polar base with‚ zero emissions‘: the station can operate solely on renewable energy sources and is ­completely passive. It absorbs energy, but does not emit any. For example, 80% of all the water is recycled. At an electrotechnical level the project was also an enormous challenge, which is why head of project management Johan Berte enlisted the help of the Laborelec competence centre. They took care of the preliminary study and the design and translated these into materials and technology. Pro-Engineering Design took care of the hardware detail engineering. This company chose EPLAN to design and manage their electrical diagrams.

Renewable energy

Inventive and flexible

A new dimension in electrical engineering “The project was a real challenge in electrical engineering,” explains chief engineer Sven Kerremans of Laborelec. “It was an exceptional situation. There is no earthing on the South Pole so that conventional power grids cannot be used. This meant we also had to be very inventive in the choice of our materials. Obviously batch material was not usable. Fortunately we found the ideal partner in Schneider Electric. Also, the energy supply was dynamic because of the local solar and wind energy. What could be the solution for this unstable grid? A parent smart grid that uses a Demand Power Management System to automatically allocate power to priority power demand. This was something that had never been done before. The controls were developed by Schneider Electric.”

Continuously responding to changes Laborelec carried out many studies and did a lot of research into the most suitable materials and best techniques available. To further develop their design they called upon Pro-Engineering Design. Vincent Van den Broek of Pro-Engineering Design recollects: “In a very short time we had to develop a system that included of 26 kilometres of cable, 29 switch boxes and 2,200 I/Os. Laborelec internally replicated the entire system. It was enormous, with a length of 25 metres, a height of 9 metres and 6 meters wide; sheer proof of the complexity of this project. And because there was so much fresh ground to break, we needed to be very flexible and be prepared to make many changes. We needed a system that would respond quickly and flexibly to new situations, which is why we chose EPLAN Electric P8 in combination with EPLAN PPE.”


Deciding on EPLAN

Respecting tight deadlines

Vincent already had experience working with EPLAN and EPLAN‘s service in Belgium. “I was familiar with EPLAN and I knew that their software could work well for us. And because of the project‘s short turnaround time and the high degree of flexibility needed, I immediately called in the help of the EPLAN engineers. They advised me about standardization and suggested a number of modules and features that I was not aware of. These all helped to ensure that we were able to deliver everything in time ... even for such a highly complex project.”

Using EPLAN PPE, Pro-Engineering Design first laid down the P&IDs and then started detailing the electrical cabinets using EPLAN Electric P8. Vincent: “The EPLAN systems are very flexible and transparent. Also, EPLAN PPE and EPLAN Electric P8 communicate seamlessly with each other, as they are the same platform. This avoids duplicate work and mistakes, and it saves a lot of time in the design phase and when making changes. Another advantage was all the master data EPLAN accumulated and supplied with the system. Symbols, macros, outstanding standardization and a Schneider Electric article database. This was immediately available thanks to the close cooperation between EPLAN and Schneider Electric ... All this contributed to us being able to keep to our tight deadlines.”


Renewable energy

Transparent Design

High degree of documentation However, our main concern was its use on the South Pole. The system needed to be perfectly transparent to the local engineers. “As far as that goes, once again EPLAN is excellent,” claims Sven Kerremans. “The system comes with a high degree of documentation. Behind each component there is a world of data and product information. By simply clicking on the hyperlink, the external technical sheets and documents open in PDF format, packed with information. On top of that the initial start-up went very smoothly, as a result of Vincent‘s transparent EPLAN design. To users these are all essential elements, especially when you realize how isolated everyone is over there. Because quickly dispatching an EPLAN employee to the South Pole to explain matters in more detail, is simply not an option.”

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Customer Success Story: Princess Elisabeth Antartica  
Customer Success Story: Princess Elisabeth Antartica