August 10, 2009
Bentley Substation V8i Meets the New Utility
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Bentley Substation V8i Meets the New Utility

By Susan Smith


The SmartGrid looms as a goal for an industry that hasn’t changed since World War II. What is the utility industry to do, with a wide range of social, environmental and political pressures pushing it toward a cataclysmic change?


click to enlarge [

Product showing multiple views including 3D, elevations and electrical
According to Bentley global marketing director, Richard Zambuni, utilities form a significant portion of Bentley’s revenue. Up until now, solutions to utility challenges were only to be found in disparate products that were integrated into electrical design and 3D physical design and modeling.


But that’s not all: utilities can’t continue on the way they have been going; they are charged with offering renewable power and reducing carbon emissions, as public pressure, government mandates and international agreements put the pressure on.


Distributed renewable power generation has be built into the grid, which means a change in the structure of the grid. Population growth and manufacturing growth in developing countries such as Asia, Middle East and Latin and South America will drive an expanding infrastructure. Developed countries suffer from an aging infrastructure. The SmartGrid will need to deliver energy from different sources in a more intelligent way to its customers.


Zambuni noted five areas where Bentley offers software solutions for improving the re-engineering of utilities:

1) Power plant and engineering design for power plants for conventional fossil fuel and hydroelectric plants.

2) Nuclear plants and nuclear will form a larger part of the generation mix of the future.

3) Support and analysis of transmission distribution infrastructure.

4) ProjectWise supports structured engineering workflows, team collaboration and engineering content management for distributed enterprises.

5) Bentley design and engineering of electric substations.


A lot is to be said for intelligent models here. Bentley Substation generates an intelligent model of the infrastructure that supports the entire lifecycle from planning to decommissioning to everything in between. Why an intelligent model? Because intelligent information models drive faster design and build time lines. They allow projects to be realized more quickly, optimize costs and deliver better performing infrastructure across the life cycle, according to the company. The intelligent information model can be also be used by distributed teams across the enterprise at multiple locations in the country or around the world.


Many Bentley utility partners have helped in the conceptual design and development of Bentley Substation.


What is a Substation?


Substations are a key part of the electric utility infrastructure which enables power to be delivered from a generation plant point of view, whether it’s a home, office or factory. Without substations, according to Zambuni, the power would not take a proper form to be efficiently distributed or used. The power to be used in a home or business comes off the transmission grid and steps down to the distribution grid, which can happen in several phases. The place where the conversion remission to distribution occurs is called a power substation, and a power substation typically does two or three things: it has transformers that step down transmission voltages of tens of thousands of
volts down to distribution voltages, typically less than ten thousand volts. The distribution power can be split off in multiple directions, and often have circuit breakers and switches that the substation can be disconnected from. The transmission grid or separate distribution lines can be disconnected from the substation when necessary.


Because of the SmartGrid, substations will need to be retrofitted to be intelligent and new ones must be built to support the transmission of renewable sources of power to the public. Around 40 percent of substation infrastructure in the developed world is close to the end of being operational. In the Middle East, China, India, Latin and South America, demand for power is growing dramatically which is pushing the need for substations.


Mike Lambert, Bentley Substation product manager, outlined some problems users have: Substation design is dominated by 2D drafting for designing complex electrical systems, and plain CAD doesn’t offer the productivity gains of increased quality design or faster project design cycles that are required in today’s market.


The 2D CAD drafting process is still manual and error prone. Many processes such as physical plans and sections, producing protection and control diagrams of other engineering documents, are labor intensive because they have to be manually extracted. Manual processes are subject to errors so all the work must be rechecked, synchronized or documentation re-entered.


Without a 3D substation model, 2D plans and sections are tedious to draft, and lead to design errors. Gaining public acceptance as well as regulatory approval may be a challenge without 3D visualization capabilities.


What is needed is a dedicated design application with the following capabilities:

1) integrates physical design with electrical design.

2) uses and creates an intelligent information model for the substation.

3) facilitates collaborative workflows between groups and between geographic locations for the project.

4) produces 100 percent accurate and complete documentation automatically from the substation design model.


V8i for intelligent integrated substation design was based on user input, and developed to include key features:

1) Provides an intelligent information model for substation design commissioning, construction and operations.

2) 3D physical design for general arrangement of equipment, buses, structures, foundation, lighting, grounding grid, lightning protection, control house and other features.

3) Electrical design including one line and three lines for the power distribution system as well as protection and control design for schematic and elementary diagrams and wiring diagrams.

4) Automatic report generation for accurate and synchronized bill of materials, wire list, cable schedules, device lists and other reports and schedules.

5) Ground grid design in the 3D substation model – lightning protection modeling, panel layouts for design and construction and protection and control of equipment, wire sag calculations to ensure clearances within the substation and integration with enterprise content management system.


The substation database enables an intelligent substation model in the center, linking the 2D electrical design and 3D physical design.


Substation V8i addresses substation infrastructure lifecycle for both Greenfield and Brownfield projects planning through design, through materials acquisition, construction commissioning, energization, putting in service, operations and maintenance, then starting cycle over again.


The Bentley Substation solution includes additional applications for civil site design, structural engineering, building design, dynamic plotting and other complementary applications. It is integrated with ProjectWise for content management, which includes the ability to track and control changes to the design and coordinate work across different geographic locations, do user collaboration and support project workflow.


Bentley said that users can expect an estimated 30 percent reduction in design time and more savings in the creation of built materials. All this will then mean a shortened design cycle which will ultimately translate to substations getting into service sooner.


This obviously is all predicated on what we know today about substations. The substations of the future, which will embody new energy sources, both renewable and non-renewable, may challenge these systems in ways technologists haven’t yet imagined. Yet this V8i “intra-operable” software anticipates the new utility and has built in ways to potentially manage the lifecycle of future projects – whatever they may be.


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