ACTOM’s substation project management division, ACTOM Power Systems, has secured a new data centre self-build substation contract in Gauteng. Worth over R50-million, the contract involves a complete refurbishment of the 132/11 kV Kosmosdal-A substation in Samrand, Centurion in the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. The upgraded substation, a self-build project by Growthpoint Properties by arrangement with the municipality, is being established for a dedicated supply of power to a new data centre currently under construction nearby.

Self-build basis

ACTOM divisions will supply most of the new equipment to be installed in the substation. This is the third substation contract that ACTOM Power Systems has been awarded within the past three years by a private sector company on a self-build basis by arrangement with a municipality for supply of power to a new or extended data centre.

The 88/11 kV transformers shown in the above picture of part of a substation extension of a substation undertaken by ACTOM Power Systems in Kempton Park two years ago were produced by ACTOM Power Transformers, which has now been contracted to manufacture the two 132/11 kV power transformers required as part of the refurbishment of Kosmosdal-A substation.

Both of the previous two contracts were for substations in the City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality. The first of these, completed in September 2019, involved an extension of the 132/11kV Airport Super Substation next to OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, while the second, awarded in November last year and due for completion in October this year, is for an entirely new substation, the 88/11kV Long Avenue substation in northern Ekurhuleni.

Long Avenue substation – originally referenced as Witfontein Ext. 90 – includes provision of additional power supply to enable substantial further development throughout northern Ekurhuleni. The Kosmosdal-A substation contract, awarded at the end of February this year and overseen by consulting engineers Geopower, is scheduled for completion by January 2022.

Curved balls

“Working to an already tight programme, we have had to field a couple of curved balls to ultimately achieve a workable execution plan,” said Hannes Horn, ACTOM Power Systems’ Senior Contracts Manager responsible for the contract. The first was the discovery that an OEM in Europe, which ACTOM had routinely approached to manufacture specialised 132 kV disconnecting circuit-breakers in the past, had unexpectedly discontinued its production line after initially quoting for the supply of this equipment.

“As a result, we’ve had a mad scramble to explore various alternative compact-design solutions, as well as trying to locate substitute suppliers that could still meet the local delivery constraint without negatively impacting the overall programme,” said Horn.

The second complication posed an even greater threat of impacting the entire data centre development programme beyond merely the substation portion of the works. A local manufacturer, with which the order for the two free-issue 40 MVA 132/11 kV power transformers had been placed, suffered a devastating fire at its factory in March.

Apart from the imported specialised 132 kV disconnecting circuit-breakers required for part of the refurbishment of the 132/11 kV Kosmosdal-A substation due to space constraints, the rest of the substation will have a conventional open-yard configuration, similar to that seen in the above picture showing a portion of a substation extension erected by ACTOM Power Systems in Kempton Park two years ago


“This serious setback was successfully overcome by negotiating with our customer to incorporate the supply of the two power transformers into our contract and switch manufacture thereof to our in-house factory, ACTOM Power Transformers, instead. While some overall delay slippage was unavoidable, we have still managed to curtail this to within the constraints of the broader data centre deadline,” Horn remarked.

The other ACTOM divisions and business units involved are:

  • ACTOM High Voltage Equipment, which will supply conventional circuit breakers, isolators, earth switches, current transformers, voltage transformers and surge arresters.
  • ACTOM Distribution Transformers will supply the NECRT transformers.
  • Static Power will supply batteries and chargers.
  • ACTOM Protection & Control will supply protection and automation systems.
  • ACTOM Electrical Products will supply all power and control cable and accessories required to renew the substation.
  • The 11 kV switchgear is to be free-issued by the City of Tshwane for relocation to the substation.

ACTOM (Pty) Ltd is a level 1 B-BBEE Contributor with 52.91% Black Ownership and 31.97% Black Women Ownership. It is the largest manufacturer, solution provider, repairer, maintainer and distributor of electro-mechanical equipment in Africa, offering a winning and balanced combination of manufacturing, service, repairs, maintenance, projects and distribution through its 33 outlets throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
ACTOM is also a major local supplier of electrical equipment, services and balance of plant to the renewable energy projects. It also holds numerous technology, distribution and value added reseller agreements with various partners, both locally and internationally.


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