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UMSPANNWERK: Crackling tension in Ganderkesee

GANDERKESEE The site is idyllic and a bit remote. Freshly mowed lawn and a red brick building convey a contemplative atmosphere - and yet almost unbelievable forces are at work here. A constant crackling can be heard. The cause: Electricity with a maximum voltage of 380,000 volts is supplied here.

The energy that is "processed" in the Ganderkese substation of the Eon network is generated by the Unterweser nuclear power plant. “On site, a maximum voltage of 380,000 volts is converted into a high voltage of 110,000 volts using a transformer,” explains Peter Faehse, who coordinates the maintenance of the Eon substations in the north.

The imposing transformer weighs 300 tons. It has been in continuous use for 24 years, measures 15 meters in length and three meters in width. A new transformer of this type costs three million euros, reports Joelle Bouillon, deputy spokeswoman for Eon-Netz. These transformers are designed for a period of 50 years. For insulation and heat dissipation, there are 60 tons of oil, up to 105,000 liters, in a transformer, explains Faehse. The oil is cooled by fans. Faehse: "Its composition is frequently checked, but normally not replaced within fifty years."

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The entire process of transporting the electricity can be compared to driving on different roads. The starting point is the nuclear power plant. From there, the electricity travels over a motorway (380 kV high-voltage lines) and leaves at a transformer in a substation, as in Ganderkesee. Now it goes on on a federal highway (110 kV), at the intersections of which smaller transformers further reduce the voltage. It then continues on country roads (20 kV) and - after a further voltage change to 220 V - to the individual houses.

Service groups consisting of a foreman and ten skilled workers are used to maintain the substations. A service group looks after around 20 to 30 substations, says Joelle Bouillon. These groups are not only responsible for maintenance, but are also primarily used when damage occurs or the system fails. A lightning strike does not lead to a defect, reports Faehse. “It only leads to a brief flicker of light in the residential buildings. However, this does not mean that the system fails. ”Only when an excavator drives into the high-voltage lines or something similarly serious happens will the system fail. But that is unlikely, says Bouillon.

The substation in Ganderkesee, like all other plants in the north, is controlled via the control center and main control room in Lehrte. A second operating center of Eon-Netz is located in Bamberg, from where the substations in the south are served. The technicians can influence the functions by remote control.

That wasn't the case about twenty years ago. At that time, the on-site substations were manned by a technician who controlled the entire system manually. A responsible but lonely job. Far away, in the green. Only the crackling disturbed the calm of everyday work.