Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB)
Location: Republic of Ireland
Storage Use: 200 Equipment housings
The Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB) builds, owns, operates and maintains the electricity distribution network in the Republic of Ireland. The substation housings at around 80 of its sites across the country needed to be renewed and upgraded. The company sent out tenders to major building manufacturers across the UK and Ireland to find the best possible solution for this large-scale facilities upgrade programme.
The programme schedule was very tight and the build time on these operational sites needed to be minimised, which meant that modular buildings were the preferred option. What’s more, the buildings needed to be constructed to a very high specification since the switchgear and control equipment to be installed is highly sensitive to floor movement and requires a completely rigid, level floor.
Brendan Linehan, Technical Manager at ESB, says: “Portastor was chosen for its value for money and the high standard of its buildings. We worked very closely with them to develop designs for the substation buildings that fulfilled all of our very strict specifications.”
Portastor developed ten standard, repeatable building designs that covered all the requirements of ESB’s 80 or so sites. By manufacturing off-site in Portastors purpose built well-equipped manufacturing facility, Portastor could assure ESB that its substation housings would be completed to the same exacting standards every time, whilst being manufactured to the exact specifications required by ESB.
Once constructed, the buildings are fitted out with switchgear and control equipment from Siemens and Areva. The wiring is completed in the Portastor factory by Siemens or Areva engineers and the buildings are fully tested before being despatched to Ireland. More than 200 of these equipment housings will be delivered during the five-year roll-out, with each site requiring between one and three buildings.
Because the buildings are manufactured away from the substation site, groundworks and civil engineering works can be carried out in parallel with the building construction, drastically reducing the programme time. Concrete pillar foundations are put in place by ESB ready for the Portastor buildings to be simply craned into position. Once each building is sited, access steps and platforms are fitted and the building is connected and commissioned. The maximum time Portastor will have to spend on any site is just two weeks.
To ensure that electricity customers in each region do not experience any interruption to their supply, each site remains live while the Portastor buildings are installed. This makes it a hazardous environment in which to work. Portastor has a long track record of working in the power sector, which enables its engineers to ensure that buildings are delivered efficiently and safely. On sites where cranes cannot be used due to overhead cable restrictions, Portastor arranges for an innovative “lift-and-skid” technique to be carried out by a specialist team.
Portastor has ensured the integrity of the project by making sure that Siemens and Areva oversee the second fit install at the Portastor manufacturing facility. In addition Portastor engineers receive site inductions that cover health and safety, method statements and risk assessments before entering the substation sites.
Brendan adds: “The buildings delivered so far have met all of our requirements and we are happy with our new substation housings. The service from Portastor has been very good and they have succeeded in meeting our programme times.”
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