Advanced electronics equipment original design manufacturer Etion Create has secured a contract to supply its VF360 OpenVPX boards for the core computing units (CCUs) installed in the one of the world’s largest offshore wind farm projects.
The Sofia offshore wind farm, 100% owned by German utility RWE, is being constructed 200 km off the UK coast in the North Sea area known as the Dogger Bank.
Consortium lead for the project GE Grid Solutions specifically required high performance VPX-based digital signal processing (DSP) technology for its eLumina high voltage direct current (HVDC) control system, said Etion Create system engineer Piet du Toit.
The HVDC electrical transmission system that GE will supply relies on specialised DSP and high-reliability VPX technologies for its control and protection systems to ensure maximum system availability.
“DSP is typically used in application-specific processors or computers for real-time floating point calculations,” he explained, noting that it has a high level of accuracy, which is required in high-performance computing platforms, such as GE’s eLumina HVDC control system CCU.
Etion Create’s VF360 OpenVPX board is designed and manufactured at the company’s Pretoria facilities.
The company has been supplying and supporting its VF360 OpenVPX module to GE Grid Solutions since the early stages of the eLumina project.
“In essence, the eLumina control system is integral to GE’s two HVDC converter stations in the Sofia project that transmits up to 1 400 MW of power over 220 km from the offshore wind farm to the onshore Teesside station,” Du Toit commented.
The offshore HVDC station converts AC voltage to 320 kilovolts DC voltage and the onshore station does the reverse from DC to AC voltage before connecting to the national grid.
“As such, it is part of large smart grid infrastructure solutions where low loss power transmission over long distances is of utmost importance.”
“Offshore wind farms, like the UK’s massive Sofia project, are typical users of this technology. Etion Create is therefore well positioned with its VF360 product as a key component in the HVDC transmission control system for similar projects GE has lined up over the next decade,” he continued.
“We believe our track record as a trusted supplier of innovative electronic technology for more than 20 years counted in Etion Create’s favour when GE Grid Solutions sought the required OpenVPX DSP technology that we have developed as part of our own portfolio.”
Etion Create has extensive experience in designing and manufacturing products for harsh environments, having been associated with defence and aerospace products for decades, he concluded, highlighting Etion Create’s involvement in several key defence programmes in South Africa, such as the Rooivalk attack helicopter and Mokopa missile, as well as optical helmet-mounted tracking systems for Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters.