Voith Hydro has announced it has successfully transported a 170-metric-ton spherical valve to the Frades II project in Portugal – Europe’s largest variable-speed pumped-storage plant.

The component, which was fabricated in Asia, was shipped via Rotterdam to the Portuguese port of Leixeos and transported from there to its destination by a special truck.

"Our biggest challenge in getting a just-in-time delivery of such a large component in the first place was coordinating the interfaces between the various carriers and everyone else involved in the transport on the journey from China to Europe," explained Stephan Pfeuffer, Head of Shipping at Voith Hydro Heidenheim. "The transport time as such was around eight weeks in the end as planned, but the preparation took much longer."

During the two-day journey over Portugal’s roads, the 40m-long and 5m high special load had to negotiate obstacles like narrow winding roads and low bridges. Due to driving conditions, the transport could only move on with walking speed for the last 25km. "That only works with detailed planning and close consultation with the freight company and local authorities. Ultimately, the success of the transport operation hangs on just a few centimeters," says Pfeuffer.

At the new Frades II pumped storage plant in northwestern Portugal, the reversible pump turbines will be controlled by two spherical valves, which have to open very quickly to ensure a rapid transition from phase shifter mode to turbine mode. Two hydraulic cylinders adjust the valves according to the fluctuating electricity demand.

As well as the spherical valve, Voith is also supplying the plant with two variable-speed, reversible 390MW-pump turbine units, two asynchronous motor generators, each with a rated output of 440 MVA, the frequency converter and control technology as well as hydraulic steel components.

The system is set to go on stream this year.