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.

The aim of the load management programme is to reduce peak loads by 20 percent by 2025 in comparison to the unchanged forecast or by 150 MW – of which 70 MW will be cut by 2023. This 70 MW is equivalent to the average power required by around 150,000 households.

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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