Research and Development

To introduce new technological and systems solutions, new instruments and methods aimed at improving the reliability of plants and, therefore, service quality, Terna mainly uses in-house technicians who base their work on the careful monitoring and analysis of the performance of equipment and plants. Terna also uses the specialised support of manufacturers, collaboration with universities, RSE S.p.A. (Ricerca Sistema Energetico) and CESI S.p.A., a specialised service company in which it has a 42.698% equity interest. In particular, in 2012 the Terna Group incurred costs of €15.6 million in respect of the associate CESI of which €14.2 million were capitalised.

The accounting treatment of Research and Development expenses is discussed in the “Intangible Assets” paragraph of section “A. ACCOUNTING POLICIES AND MEASUREMENT CRITERIA” of the Notes to the Financial Statements of Terna S.p.A. at 31 December 2012.

Studies for innovation and the development of new engineering solutions take place along four main research lines.

PURPOSE PROJECTS AND STAGE OF PROGRESS 2012
OPTIMISATION OF STRUCTURES AND MATERIALS
Design of supports with less visual impact and/or improved environmental integration International “Pylons of the Future” contest
The tests on actual-size prototypes have been completed, and production has begun on the supports to be installed on the 380 kV line - Trino-Lacchiarella.
Upgrading of transmission capacity of existing lines Innovative high-performance conductors
Qualification tests have been concluded on the installation of ACSS-type High Temperature Conductors, characterised by a steel carrier with very high mechanical resistance and annealed aluminium cladding.
New technology for high voltage cables Recyclable cables
A primary supplier has made available a cable for High Voltage (a technology already consolidated on Medium Voltage) produced with completely recyclable raw materials. It will enable a reduction in the environmental impact of grids and, at the same time, a rise in their energy transport capacity. The testing of the prototype in the laboratory is about to be launched, after the installation of a pilot on a plant under construction during the first half of the year.
New protocols for tests on HV cables Tests for cables and blends
A protocol is being developed, in collaboration with the University of Bologna, for tests which all HV cable suppliers will have to carry out on cables or on the insulating materials used to verify their chemical and physical properties.
Fencing and ATR foundations Design and unification - Fencing and foundations
Engineering and unification have been carried out of certain types of:
  • Station fencing (prefabricated, cast on site, grating). The new designs have been differentiated according to the seismic and wind dimensions, and according to whether or not an anti-collapse perimeter is needed. 
  • ATR foundation. The new designs are differentiated according to the level of transformer voltage, the size of the machine, and the degree of external stress imposed on the foundation. 
The aim is to provide the company with a catalogue from which the best solution can be chosen.
Station layout Updated and new station layouts
  • The layouts of the Controls and Ancillary Services buildings have been updated, with reduced plan dimensions and optimised internal layouts.
  • New layouts have been elaborated for the integrated buildings to be used in small Dispatching and Transformer stations.
  • New, compact layouts have been prepared with reduced station surface area. Elaboration of the optimised 380 kV section is pending completion. This will be followed by the development of the 220 and 150 kV voltages.
EQUIPMENT DIAGNOSTICS
Monitoring of station equipment and machinery New sensors on equipment and machinery
In the Lacchiarella station, installation has been completed on the 380 kV section of new types of sensors, positioned on board equipment and machinery. Installation is currently underway of another type on the 132 kV section. These will be observed with a view to potential widespread installation. Once the installation of the 132 kV equipment monitoring system is completed in June 2013, Terna will have its first fully-monitored station.
Analysis and monitoring of line components Insulator test laboratory
A project is planned for development of an Experimental Station for the study and monitoring of surface contamination of insulators. At present, the feasibility study has been concluded, which has enabled the most appropriate sites to be identified. Installation is expected to take place in 2013.
Monitoring of partial discharges on High Voltage cable systems PDM (Partial Discharge Monitoring)
On a number of cable connections systems have been installed to monitor partial discharge at joints and terminals. Comparative measurements were also carried out with a new instrument which needs no connection to the tested component. Examination of the data collected is aimed at finalising a specific technique for the acquisition of such systems and at defining the criteria for installation and use for testing purposes of first-installation cable systems.
NEW EQUIPMENT
Compact stations with rapid installation SCRI (Stazioni Compatte di Rapida Installazione)
Given the advantages of this solution, tested with the SCRI 150 kV, the 380 kV station has also been designed. The feasibility of production has been verified with the manufacturers and a number of tests are being carried out in this regard.
PLANT SAFETY
SicurTrafo Project Project for a system of containment barriers to protect ATRs
Development is being completed of the final project for a system of barriers used to contain power transformers (ATRs), on all 4 sides of the machine. The project provides for 3 fixed barriers and one mobile barrier, at the front, to enable the machine to be moved. The project has uniform features so that it can be used all over the country. The functional purpose of the barrier is to screen both flames and impact by flying fragments if the transformer explodes, increasing safety in the plant. Studies were also launched on the applicability of ATRs on a system able to avoid machine fires in the case of serious faults.
Reduction of seismic vulnerability Application of earthquake-resistant devices to the most vulnerable equipment
In collaboration with the University Roma Tre, a study on the seismic vulnerability of the plants is being defined with particular attention to the equipment most at risk. The purpose of the study is to define earthquake-resistant devices to be inserted between the foundations and the support of equipment in order to improve response to earthquakes.