Research and Development

The Parent’s research and development activities were focused on developing environmental monitoring and control technologies, enhancing the efficiency and reliability of plant, maximising service quality and optimising the management of corporate processes.
A group of experts is constantly studying the technological innovations to be used to improve Terna’s core processes. The team is able to make use of specialised information systems (MBI etc.) for the close monitoring of equipment.
A number of activities were identified and implemented in 2010. The main activities, some of which are still at the implementation stage, are described briefly below:

  • anti-deflagration terminals; new cable terminals are available, equipped with anti-deflagration systems;
  • single-shaft supports for 380 kV lines: the feasibility study has been performed for single-shaft supports with high mechanical performance;
  • emergency supports: quick-installation supports have been made available for maintenance for 150 and 220 kV;
  • high Transport Capacity conductors: the following have been completed:
    • the installation of a new type of conductor featuring high thermal limit and reduced length; the experience of the INVAR-ZTAL conductors has been consolidated;
    • the study of further solutions using supports in ceramic or carbon, featuring high electrical and mechanical performance, particularly suitable for redoing power lines without replacing pylons.
  • International "Pylons of the Future" contest: the preliminary studies have been started for the engineering of the winning supports;
  • automation of Bolano-Paradiso stations: a study is currently underway looking to ensure the automatic replacement of cables relating to the interconnection of Sicily and Calabria in the stations of Bolano and Paradiso, which will allow for significant reductions in the time required for replacing cables, where necessary;
  • extremely reliable current transformers (HV): the installation has begun of the new HV characterised by high hermetic seal performance (low gas loss), silicon insulation (rather than ceramic), high resistance of the internal arch to extremely high external temperatures and an overcharge of 150%;
  • new transportable SCRI 150 kV stations: a new type of station has been designed (the first started-up in December 2010), which can be transported by road and is quick to install. It consists of three bays on a line with a single-bar execution and can be used to connect "in-out" production plants on a 150 kV line;
  • containment of SF6 emissions: initiatives are underway to reduce the emissions of SF6, such as the recording and computerised management of the use of SF6 gas, specification of new "low loss" equipment and experiments on the recovery of gas from plants to be disposed of;
  • on-line monitoring system of HV equipment: in the Lacchiarella power plant, the on-line monitoring system of HV equipment has been activated, with data transmission to the PSE platform and MBI remote maintenance centre;
  • direct current plants: an investigation has been performed on the state of the art and specification on dielectric extruded electrical cables for cable systems HVDC 320 kV isolated in XLPE for overland applications and on VSC conversion systems;
  • specific technical update of autotransformers, with study for the specification of new machine 400 MVA 400 kV/155 kV, safety prescriptions (rise systems, flange holding systems) and technological update (resin polymer pass-throughs, dissolved gas sensors sensitive to 3 gases);
  • study for the design and operation of PSTs (Phase Shifting Transformers): the following have been implemented:
    • the review of the PST project of Camporosso, Foggia and Villanova;
    • the study of transistors during installation of the PSTs in Foggia and the use of the by-pass;
    • the specifications for the test and protection system by means of RTDS.
    • Study of possible solutions by which to optimise the design and construction of new power plants, aiming to seek compact installation solutions (reactors with toroidal neutral HV, combined equipment) and the identification of new civil design standardisation criteria;
  • specification of HV/LV power transformers to power the power plants directly from the NTG.

These activities have been pursued using internal resources. The staff also operate in working groups, a method that facilitates the spread of knowledge to all branches of the Company. Terna also draws on the specialist support of developers, universities, the associate CESI S.p.A., and, where necessary, its main suppliers, which are also interested in the development of new technologies and operate under the supervision of project managers from within the Company. In particular, in 2010 the Terna Group incurred costs totalling € 22.5 million towards the associate CESI, of which € 19.9 million capitalised (of this latter amount, € 0.5 million relating to the subsidiary RTR).

The accounting treatment of Research and Development expenses is discussed in the “Intangible assets” paragraph of section “A. Accounting policies” of the notes to the financial statements of Terna S.p.A. at 31 December 2010.