Chilean hydropower project won!

All the Aconcagua river basin hydro plants in Chile will now be monitored by B&K Vibro

Colbún has awarded a contract to Brüel & Kjær Vibro for retrofitting four cascade hydropower stations on the Aconcagua river basin for protection and condition monitoring. Colbún, the second largest electric utility company in Chile, is generating a total of 3,278 MW of energy, of which 1,589 MW comes from 16 hydroelectric power stations. Construction of the Aconcagua river basin hydro plants has had an important impact on the local economy. More energy is available for increased commercial activity and new bridges and roads were built to give access to the semi-isolated villages in the region. Environmental impact has been minimized since no dams were built and there is less dependence on the coal and natural gas thermal power generation in the Central Interconnected System grid. The Aconcagua river basin hydropower stations to be monitored include:

  • Chacabuquito – Run-of-river  plant with 4 Francis turbine units, 30 MW, 2002
  • Los Quilos – 3 Pelton turbine units, 39 MW, 1943
  • Aconcagua (Blanco and Juncal) – 2 Pelton turbine units, 88 MW, 1994
  • Hornitos – 1 Pelton turbine unit, 60 MW, 2008

The hydro-generating units in these power stations, from five different manufacturers, originally had different monitoring systems already installed. The Hornitos and Blanco units already have fully functioning Brüel & Kjær Vibro monitoring equipment installed (VIBROCONTROL 4000 and VIBROCONTROL 6000® Machine Protection Systems), which will be re-used. The competitor systems will be replaced by Brüel & Kjær Vibro monitoring systems.

The project also involves installing vibration monitoring sensors on the guide bearing and the combined thrust bearings on all the machines except those where the existing sensors will be re-used. The Brüel & Kjær Vibro Compass 6000TM condition monitoring platform will be centrally installed at the Los Quilos hydropower station for remotely monitoring all machines. Upon project completion, all units from all four hydropower stations on the Aconcagua river basin will have exclusively Brüel & Kjær Vibro protection and condition monitoring systems.

Bruel & Kjær Vibro was selected by virtue of both commercial and technical benefits. The Brüel & Kjær Vibro VI-6080 data link interface plays an important role for the installation since it enables data to be transferred from the buffered outputs of the existing protection systems to Compass 6000TM, to provide full condition monitoring capability. The comprehensive service and training offered by Brüel & Kjær Vibro was also considered crucial to the project.