ABB Drives Power UK's Largest Pumping Station

Six 1250kW ABB industrial drives will be powering the UK's largest pumping station, protecting 700km2 of land in the Cambridgeshire Fens from flooding. The pumping station at Wiggenhall St Germans will protect more than 25,000 properties, businesses, conservation sites and extensive areas of high-grade agricultural land in an area called the Middle Level. Each of the six new pump sets will be able to raise 16.66m3/sec to a static head of 4.25m, giving a total capacity of 100m3/sec.

This gives the station the capacity to deal with extreme events, although in a moderate year it is expected to run no more than three pumps at a time under normal conditions. A system of rotation will be introduced to ensure that the pumps get an equal amount of use. The ABB industrial drives will adjust the pumps to suit a wide range of flows. Each pump will operate to match the actual flow demand and can respond immediately whenever circumstances change. The pumps will also provide quicker response at start-up as they do not need priming, as is the case with the existing units.

The station will pump water from the Middle Level into the tidal River Great Ouse. Upstream conditions are relatively stable, but the discharge head can vary between 0.5 and 8.0m above the suction level, depending on the tide. It is also possible for there to be no discharge head at all during extreme low tides. The pump impeller and variable-speed drive control have been designed to prevent cavitation occurring at the extremes of high or low head. The ABB drives are installed and the site will be operational in March 2010.

The GBP38 million pumping station will be owned and operated by the Middle Level Commissioners and is being built with the help of a 45 percent grant from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Once complete, this modern station should provide security from flooding throughout its 75-year working life.


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