Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) announces successful effort leveraging Modular FACTS

Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) announces successful effort leveraging Modular FACTS

March 10, 2021

  • Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) sought to gain experience with this technology, which has broad economic and environmental benefits.
  • This technology plays an important role in the energy transformation by facilitating the connection of renewable generation.
  • With this work, EPM distinguishes itself as a leader in Latin America.

*Captions available in English

EPM innovates to serve their customers by investing in solutions that improve quality of life throughout their service territory. To fulfil this purpose, EPM announces its successful application of Modular FACTS (Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems). This places EPM at the forefront of the electricity sector in Latin America, as a pioneer in the adoption of this technology.

Modular FACTS manage the power flow on the grid as if it were the flow of water in a pipe. By moving power from heavily loaded lines to others with spare capacity, this technology optimizes the existing infrastructure. Global power technology company, Smart Wires, provides a Modular FACTS solution called SmartValveTM.

“SmartValve was recognized in 2020 by the World Economic Forum within the Critical Infrastructure category as one of the top three technologies playing a fundamental role in the energy transition of the last decade. SmartValve facilitates renewable generation connections by optimizing infrastructure and therefore received this acknowledgement due to the environmental and social benefits it provides,” said Mónica Ruiz Arbeláez, CEO of EPM.

EPM has been following Modular FACTS since 2005. In 2017, when the technology was broadly commercialized, EPM initiated efforts to explore the possibility of using SmartValve on its system within the Aburrá Valley Expansion Plan. This announcement marks the successful energization of SmartValves on EPM’s grid.

“We congratulate EPM for their vision and commitment to leverage innovation to benefit Medellin ratepayers and the broader Colombian electric sector,” reflected Peter Wells, Smart Wires CEO. “The EPM team has been, and continues to be, one of the best we have worked with around the world – both in terms of their technical capability and also with respect to their spirit of partnership to accomplish a common goal. EPM should be incredibly proud of their leadership in Colombia and more broadly in Latin America – leveraging innovation to eliminate congestion, help connect lower cost generation, and cost-effectively increase reliability, bringing incredibly value to Colombian ratepayers.”

Among the advantages of Modular FACTS are:

  1. By providing real-time flexibility and control, this technology improves system reliability and lowers operational costs.
  2. It limits the impact of infrastructure on urban areas and natural environments by deferring or avoiding the construction of new power transmission lines or the repowering of existing lines.
  3. It enables the connection of new renewable energy resources, ensuring the power they generate can reach electricity markets and demand centers.
  4. By optimizing existing infrastructure, this technology ensures EPM efficiently deploys capital and enables them to keep costs low for Colombian consumers.

The project results will be socialized with companies throughout the Colombian electricity sector including the Regulating Commission of Energy and Gas (CREG according to the initials in Spanish), the regulator, and the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the governmental entities in charge of planning the expansion and operation of the National Interconnected System (SIN). “Modular FACTS will allow us to technologically drive the development of the electricity sector in our country, and the successful results of this project will enable its use in Latin America,” said Mónica Ruiz Arbeláez, CEO of EPM.

Unlike traditional FACTS – which occupy large spaces in substations, require custom designs and are not easily relocatable – SmartValves offer a modular approach to investment. This means deployments can be scaled alongside changing system needs. SmartValves offer flexible installation footprints, saving valuable substation space, and can even be located on transmission towers or on mobile units. Since they are voltage-agnostic, SmartValves can easily be moved from their initial location as system needs evolve.

"Modular FACTS will allow us to technologically drive the development of the electricity sector in our country, and the successful results of this project will enable its use in Latin America,"

Mónica Ruiz Arbeláez

CEO of EPM

With this project, EPM cements its position as a leader and a pioneer in Latin America. By using innovative technologies that benefit their customers and the broader electricity sector, EPM is improving the quality of life for people throughout their service territory and making a positive impact on the global energy transition.

About EPM

EPM Group is a multi-Latin group with presence in six countries: Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Panama. The Organization, which serves more than 20 million people, provides water supply services, wastewater management, generation, distribution, commercialization and transmission of energy, natural gas commercialization, seawater purification and solid waste management.

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