Load Management – Smart Grid at SBB.

SBB’s clock-face schedule allows multiple trains to accelerate on the network at the same time. The power requirement in the traction network increases significantly during these phases. On cold days, train and points heating is also required.

With the rising volume of traffic and more and more powerful trains, the maximum power requirement is also increasing. Power plants and frequency converters are reaching their limits. SBB can reduce the need for investment in new installations through targeted cutbacks in extreme peak loads. To do this, power consumers will be switched off for a short period.

In the first stage, this will be the train and points heating systems. The energy required will be postponed without any noticeable effect on the temperature in the coaches. The second stage will affect the drive power (traction) in the locomotives and multiple units. By controlling traction power, we aim to even out peak loads. If we can switch off specific power consumers in critical situations, this will also help boost the reliability of the rail power supply.

So SBB is exploiting the opportunities presented by digitalisation in the energy sector too, with peak loads being cut quickly and entirely automatically. The smart grid is becoming a reality in the world of rail power. As a “prosumer” (a producer and consumer), SBB is optimising the interaction between production and consumption and thus playing a part in the Swiss government’s energy strategy.

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SBB wins the Watt d'Or 2022 in the energy technologies category.

On track for flexible power consumption – Intelligent load control reduces power peaks in clock-face schedule.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) knows its way around networks. First there is the rail network, which transports over 800,000 passengers a day. And then there is the electricity network: as a pioneer of electrification in Switzerland, SBB has operated its own power stations and its own electricity grid for over a hundred years. Now it is looking to digital technologies for more innovation. Instead of building additional, expensive power plants to keep up with consumption, or load, demand at all times, SBB is now using a load management system developed in-house. At moments of peak demand, which regularly occur with a clock-face schedule, the software briefly switches off train coach and points heating systems. As a 'prosumer' (i.e. both a producer and consumer), SBB can thus add flexibility to the interaction between its electricity production and consumption.

By 2023, SBB will be able to flexibly manage 70MW this way. Once again, SBB is playing a pioneering role in Switzerland's national electricity grid.

More information about the Watt d'Or 2022 Link opens in new window.