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System and operator safety: Rheinenergie builds new substation in Cologne


Medium-voltage switchgear in the Worringen substation  

The medium-voltage switchgear in the Worringen substation

  • Rheinenergie AG operates the power distribution grid in the city of Cologne and the surrounding area.
  • The energy supplier operates a 110 kV grid as well as a secondary medium-voltage grid to supply this area.
  • As part of the ongoing expansion and modernization of the grid, a key main distribution station was upgraded.
  • The FAME plug-in test system brings a significant increase in system and operator safety during routine checks of the protection technology.

Customer profile

As a regional energy supply company for power, gas, water, and heat, Cologne-based Rheinenergie AG supplies energy and drinking water to around 2.5 million people, as well as industry, trade, and commerce.

The power grid – including all overhead lines and cables – has a total length of around 19,000 km across all voltage levels.


Switchgear in the Worringen substation from 1963  

The old switchgear from 1963

The new substation, designed to maintain security of supply, was built in the Chorweiler district in north Cologne. Up to this point, the switchgear built in 1963 had supplied the Roggendorf and Themenhofen districts with power.

The former 25 kV mains connection and the associated transformers were already decommissioned a few years ago so that the switchgear could only be used for power distribution at the 10 kV voltage level.

Karsten Martin from Rheinenergie AG in Cologne  

Karsten Martin from Rheinenergie AG in Cologne

“The upkeep of the old system was no longer economical,” explains protection engineer Karsten Martin from Rheinenergie AG. “We also built a much smaller building for the new substation.” The intention was also to increase operational reliability and security of supply.


Rheinenergie is modernizing its grids with the FAME plug-in test system  

Rheinenergie is modernizing its grids with the FAME plug-in test system

The Fühlingen substation supplies the new medium-voltage switchgear in Worringen by means of three feed-ins. The system supplies 28 surrounding local network stations via two rings using 22 switch panels. In addition to the auxiliary power transformer, there is another transformer with an output of up to 630 kVA which supplies surrounding customers directly from the station. The new switchgear was manufactured by Elatec Power Distribution GmbH. The remote control technology was provided by SAE IT-systems GmbH & Co. KG in Cologne.

“We configure the low-voltage control cabinet, together with the control components and the protection technology, ourselves and we also perform startup,” explains Martin. “This makes maintenance and routine system checks much easier.” Another reason why things are so much easier now is the use of the FAME plug-in test system from Phoenix Contact. With this approach, Rheinenergie has essentially developed a company-wide standard that has to be adhered to on all new systems.

“Since the switching sequence is configured in the test plug, only the bridging of the plug has to be modified if required,” adds Martin. “If, for example, we want to loop in an ammeter to measure the transformer currents during operation, we can remove the short-circuit jumpers.” The leading contacting through the two contact zones of the spring in the basic block ensures that looping in takes place without interrupting the transformer circuits. The trip circuits are isolated before disconnection of the signal and transformer circuits. To do this, the FAME test plugs have three pin lengths that can be configured for each position.

The extended pins on the contacts of the OFF circuits prevent unintentional tripping of the circuit breaker when inserting the plug and during testing. “The switching sequence is already determined in the plug,” states Martin. “This should then prevent downtimes due to false tripping.”


FAME offers Rheinenergie many advantages due to its flexibility and modularity, as well as its safety in the application. As Martin explains: “We can order solutions from the FAME range configured to our specifications using separate order numbers – we don't have to reconfigure them for every order.”

The connection technology from Phoenix Contact also offers advantages when it comes to connecting the protection relay: as with the plug-in test system itself, the leading short-circuit is already integrated in the connector. “We will continue using the FAME plug-in test system from Phoenix Contact in our ongoing modernization and grid expansion activities,” states Martin.


Unit 7, 2-8 South Street
Rydalmere NSW 2116

Fax: 1300 723 399
Customer Service Hotline
1300 786 411

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