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connecting power for the future.
Rapidly growing megacities, a sustainable energy transition and clean mobility – the future challenges facing the energy industry are no less today than they were in the past.
How can we sustainably generate the energy to meet future needs? How do we strengthen power grids against outages while bringing energy into harmony with the environment and the needs of fast-growing urban populations?
At PFISTERER, we are always thinking about the future and trends in the energy sector. We offer solutions today for the challenges of tomorrow – as we have done for 100 years. Take a look around and find out more about future and past demands on power grids worldwide – and our responses to them.
Stephan Götschel and Dr. Konstantin Kurfiss,
Executive Board, PFISTERER Holding AG
380 kV in extreme terrain
In 2017, Swissgrid constructed a new 380 kV overhead line in the Valais in Switzerland, to connect one of the largest pumped-storage power plants in Europe. Steep rock faces, deep gorges – the extreme terrain is a special challenge for the design of the overhead line. Factors such as component weight and being maintenance-free play a central role, as does the project team’s great wealth of experience. PFISTERER supplied the right solution in the form of silicone composite insulator strings, overhead power line components and vibration dampers.
PFISTERER specialises in application-specific insulator string designs for overhead lines. For the French transmission system operator Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE), PFISTERER supplied silicone composite insulators including protective fittings for suspension and strain strings up to 400 kV and a tensile load of around 60 tons (600 kN) – and successfully integrated the new technology into existing string assemblies. These were originally designed for glass cap insulators. But in dusty environments or in remote and inaccessible regions, RTE relies on the technical advantages of silicone composite insulators. They are less susceptible to breakage and dirt than conventional glass and ceramic insulators. With nearly 105,000 km of lines, RTE operates the largest transmission grid in Europe.
PFISTERER strain strings are deployed in 400 kV overland transmission lines across the South African desert. Silicone insulators and fittings are used in a 500 kV overhead line in Columbia. And back in 1988, PFISTERER was involved in constructing the world’s largest 800 kV outdoor switchgear in Venezuela – the highest voltage level operated up to that point. Specially developed HV clamps enable a homogeneous field and corona-free, reliable power transmission. With a generating capacity of 10,000 MW, the Guri Dam is still one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the world.
Capacity expansion with a bang
On 9 May 1965 at the Mainz-Wiesbaden Rhine crossing, for the first time in Germany existing cables in a HV overhead line were taken down in a controlled explosion. PFISTERER supplied the tension strings with long-rod insulators, wedge-type tension clamps, yoke plates and arcing protection fittings for the four new 110 kV systems.
The original fittings 34 years earlier were also from PFISTERER – and on inspection were found to be still fully functional. A film crew documented the spectacular event at the time.
One hundred years of know-how in overhead line technology
PFISTERER meets future challenges with the knowledge that comes from one hundred years of experience. This expertise has developed continuously with advances in technology – and technology has advanced thanks to PFISTERER’s expertise.
PFISTERER entered the HV sector back in 1937. The first products were steel components like hangers. Later, HV overhead line clamps and tension fittings were manufactured at the Gussenstadt plant. These successful solutions quickly gained an international reputation.
At the end of the 1950s, PFISTERER developed the wedge-type clamp – a significant innovation in overhead line construction. It greatly simplified the laborious and time-consuming task of installing the cables, as until then the steel core of the cable had to be exposed and the current-carrying aluminium sheath routed around the clamp and the mast. With the wedge-type clamp, the complete cable could pass through the clamp body. Thanks to the shape of the wedges, the clamping pressure becomes ever stronger under tension due to the weight of the cable alone. One reviewer praised its aesthetic aspects: “With its serene design, the wedge-type tension clamp blends harmoniously into the appearance of the line.” The innovation of that time remains in the PFISTERER product line today.
Beware strong winds
Broken conductors, loosened fittings, cracks in tower foundations – the list of damage that can be caused by wind-induced conductor cable vibration is drawn from the bitter experience of grid operators around the world. Things are made worse by longer distances between towers in modern line construction.
Measuring vibration the right way
PFISTERER is the only manufacturer of vibration recorders that measure not only vibration amplitudes and frequencies, but also wind speed and ambient temperature. These are important influencing factors. Here a VIBREC 500WT vibration recorder is being used to carry out measurements on individual conductors of a 110 kV line operated by Wiener Netze GmbH. The recorder stores the measured data to check the performance of Stockbridge dampers. Thanks to the precisely tuned damping system by PFISTERER, the line is well equipped to withstand punishing weather conditions.
Deserts, water, wide spans
Water and wide spans
The experts at PFISTERER gained their experience in vibration damping in numerous spectacular wide-span projects. This included developing the wear-free AV vibration damper. In 1990, these were installed along with salt water resistant dead end clamps in the middle of the North Atlantic, in a 3 km long span on the Faroe Islands. This was swiftly followed by the Limfjord crossing and the Little Belt in Denmark, as well as a river crossing over the Orinoco in Venezuela.
Peak performance at the highest level
At heights of 189 m and 227 m, the tallest overhead line towers in Europe are sited near Hamburg. Span: 1,200 metres. The Elbe crossings 1 and 2 play an important role in Germany’s north-south link. In 2017, in partnership with operator TenneT, they were modernised and strengthened to withstand rising wind loads. In just a few weeks, the PFISTERER team successfully developed new technically demanding fittings and delivered the required insulator strings. Decades earlier, PFISTERER had supplied aerial warning balls for the Elbe crossing.
Withstanding seas of sand: in the early 1990s, PFISTERER supplied 30,000 “desert quality” AV spacer dampers to Saudi Arabia. Since then, they have defied 50 °C heat and harsh cold as well as the dreaded sandstorms.
Adventure on the Orinoco
In 1990, PFISTERER was tasked with developing an optimal damping system for the world’s largest river crossing – the Orinoco crossing in Venezuela. Three masts up to 240 m tall span a distance of 6,180 m. But then came a complaint: the cables were vibrating! Two specialists from PFISTERER investigated the cause and climbed the towers twice to study the vibrations – as crocodiles lay in wait on the small river island below. It turned out that the error was an incorrect tension specification: plans had failed to include the weight of the aerial warning balls, which were fitted later. By correcting the dampers, PFISTERER was quickly able to fix the problem.
… and under the sea
What look like six Greek columns are actually outdoor terminations under construction for the safe and reliable connection of a new land-sea cable link in the Strait of Rio-Antirrio near Patras. When completed, it will improve the connection between the Peloponnese and the 400 kV grid in central Greece.
In an extra high voltage (EHV) project together with Hellenic Cables SA, in 2019 PFISTERER undertook the design, manufacture and supply of high-voltage joints and outdoor terminations, as well their installation by its own EHV fitters. When connecting submarine and land cables, the joints and SICON connectors ensure a safe transition between the different cable diameters from 1,200 mm² to 2,500 mm².
Joints – the reliable connection
PFISTERER offers slip-on joints as well as pluggable joints for the entire voltage range from 72 kV to 550 kV – including various shield options, with or without bonding and earthing cables. The joints are water-resistant and available with a solid metal or plastic housing, or alternatively there is a variant for heat-shrink sleeves. Our tried-and-tested slip-on technology ensures secure and durable connection of plastic-insulated copper or aluminium cables.Combinations of cables with different conductors and diameters are also possible.
Power distribution in the city
Once the electricity arrives safely in the urban area via overhead lines and cable systems, its journey with PFISTERER is far from over.
With our connection systems for medium and low voltage, we ensure safe distribution to the doorstep.
Live line work – easy & safe
Live line work is increasingly essential in the low voltage network. Screw connectors used for this purpose should be easy to install and ensure the best possible occupational safety.
The family of LV piercing connectors by PFISTERER has been continuously developed in practice and is specially adapted to fitters’ installation requirements – e.g. the Type 3 in collaboration with engineers from Enexis Netbeheer, one of seven regional network managers in the Netherlands, and product managers at PFISTERER partner Batenburg energietechniek.
Developed in practice: safer, more user-friendly, less labour-intensive.
LV piercing connectors make electrical contact with conductor ends – whatever the cross-section, type and insulation – without the need to remove insulation or brush the contact points. Because they pierce the insulation during installation. The stepless shear bolts on LV piercing connectors are based on patented SICON technology.
Safety from the outset
Since the 1920s, PFISTERER has been developing components and clamps for safe power distribution up to the home power connection. The patent for the PFISTERER local network switch was granted in 1933. This made it easy to disconnect a live line, e.g. while carrying out electrical installation work.
Climbing device and suspension platform
In addition to electrical safety, PFISTERER has always focused on fitters’ safety too. With the advent of concrete poles and steel towers, our engineers developed special climbing devices instead of the foot hooks that were commonly used at the time. The devices made it much easier for fitters to work on the overhead lines – as did various suspension platforms for two to six bundled conductors.
Global urban population growth
By 2050, the number of city-dwellers will double from 3.6 billion to 6.3 billion. This means that we will build housing equivalent to a city of more than 1.4 million people every week.
(Source: SHELL, New lenses)
CONNEX – a success story
Due to the shortage of space in populated areas, in the 1970s the “small and compact” trend reached the medium voltage range in local networks. For PFISTERER, this provided the impetus to develop a touch-safe solution that uses the simple cable plug-in principle for medium and high voltage too – because the cable connection compartments for overhead line systems took up too much room. Today, the system is known worldwide under the name CONNEX – and has been used millions of times.
Setting the standard
PFISTERER presented a pluggable connection for medium voltage cables for the first time in 1975. Revolutionary at the time, now it’s the norm. Literally, as the EN 50180 / EN 50181 standard is based on the CONNEX system by PFISTERER – the inventor of the inner cone system. Millions of CONNEX connectors are now in use in the electricity networks of energy companies, industry and municipal utilities worldwide.
From 6 to 550 kV
Today, CONNEX offers pluggable solutions for all voltage levels from 6 to 550 kV – on the cable, on gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) and on transformers. Applications range from substations to permanent offshore applications and temporary bypass systems for network upgrades, overhauls, maintenance and testing.
Flexible and fast
The CONNEX solid-insulated, pluggable connection system makes substations fit for the future. Equipment becomes flexible and rapidly deployable – like the universal power transformers for German operator AVU Netz GmbH. CONNEX-equipped transformers are supplied factory-tested, so they do not need to be opened on site during grid modifications – gas and oil work as well as testing in the field are eliminated. Installation is reduced to simply plugging in, with time savings of up to 75 percent.
KAPEX – the world’s first gas-insulated switchgear
PFISTERER also provided the compact solution for replacing air-insulated MV switchgear in local networks. Instead of air, PFISTERER used SF6 gas for insulation – this reduced the necessary insulation distances and space requirements to one-third. At the 1979 Hannover trade fair, the system was presented for the first time under the name KAPEX – and the cable connection followed with the CONNEX system. The systems’ success continued to grow, and in 1983 the 100th KAPEX installation – made in our Winterbach plant – was put into service by RWE in Düren. From the mid-1980s many major manufacturers adopted the principle – and still use it.
CONNEX – early success in Japan and China
When two PFISTERER employees headed out to Xi’an on 4 September 1996, their task was a milestone: to install the first three HV CONNEX plug connectors in China on a 110 kV cable. It was a great moment, and once the task was complete the mayor of Xi’an hosted a celebratory reception with a brass band.
Seven years earlier, in 1989, Kyushu Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) approved the MV CONNEX system for its supply area. This was preceded by a thorough investigation by Kumamoto University. Because of the earthquake risk, the ability to rapidly repair faults in the cable system is an important requirement in Japan – and CONNEX fulfils it.
Well prepared with backup solutions
The future of power transmission
FrontCon – rethinking the connection principle
Single-strand insulated cables can transmit more power with the same cross-section, as they significantly reduce skin and proximity effects. This is a sustainable solution that saves material and costs.
However, the conductor structure with many individual strands complicates the job of connecting cables. Previously, the individual strands had to be spread out, then stripped, and finally returned to their original shape as closely as possible. This is very time-consuming and only works to a limited extent.
PFISTERER developed a solution with the innovative FrontCon connector system, which is used in PFISTERER cable fittings.
A clean future – with renewable energy
Renewables in numbers
– the share of renewable energy in global energy production in 2019 (source: REN21/GWEC).
of wind turbine capacity is currently installed worldwide. That could power around 650 million homes. And the trend is rising fast. By 2030, the offshore sector alone is expected to grow by around 230 GW.
The greatest growth
will be seen in photovoltaics. Almost everywhere in the world, it is now cheaper to produce electricity from new renewables than from conventional sources.
PFISTERER is an offshore pioneer with decades of experience in numerous wind farm projects and a complete product series up to 550 kV. These pluggable systems are weatherproof and salt water resistant, and reliably connect all system components in a wind farm.
The range extends from PLUG connections in the first 5 MW wind turbines, via MV and HV CONNEX, to SEANEX in many international projects.
These include Q7 in the Netherlands (2005), the first German offshore wind farm Alpha Ventus (2009), and Germany’s first commercial offshore wind farm Global Tech 1 (2012) – with over 4,000 PLUG connectors, MV and HV CONNECT connections and 5,800 km of laid cable.
East Anglia One, one of the first modern 66 kV wind farms, was completed off the English coast in 2020 – with PFISTERER, of course.
Offshore platforms ensure a reliable AC and DC connection between the wind turbines and the mainland. These electrical platforms collect the generated energy and convert or transform it for transmission to shore.
In projects such as BorWin gamma, Borkum West and DolWin3, PFISTERER ensures touch-safe connections for the internal cabling on the platform.
One round trip to Dubai
The BorWin gamma converter platform had an unusually long journey to its final destination: the offshore platform was built in Dubai, before beginning its journey to the North Sea. With its local team on site, PFISTERER delivered and installed the complete 155 kV cabling beforehand and ensured seaworthy terminations during the passage.
Solar power by night
KIUC, the energy supplier in Kauai, one of the eight main islands of Hawaii, operates an innovative solar power plant combined with a Tesla battery farm. As a result, clean solar power is available even at night. Previously KIUC had to ship in fossil fuels for generators. This was inefficient, expensive and caused CO2 emissions. Environmentally friendly connections, too: Conservation and safety play an important role on the green island. So KIUC decided to eliminate the risk of leaks from oil or gas-filled connection components, and instead chose dry, silicone solid-insulated terminations by PFISTERER – for a grid connection without environmental risk. PFISTERER was the only provider able to meet KIUC’s requirements.
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SICON – connection technology
How can we improve or simplify a connection? We often ask ourselves this question. One example: the SICON connector with stepless shear bolt.
Simple and reliable
Screw connectors offer many technical advantages over compression technology. The patented stepless shear bolt guarantees optimum contact pressure, while the friction disc at the end of the bolt prevents damage to the cable conductor. Since 2003, SICON connectors have been used in countless applications.
For battery storage facilities and solar power plants
For SMA and GRIDSERVE in the United Kingdom, SICON connectors are used for power converter and battery connections in a 50 MW battery storage facility and in a 30 MW and 35 MW solar power plant and battery storage facility.
In Europe, Tesla used SICON connectors when installing the Combined Charging System (CCS) in its Superchargers. The charging points were retrofitted with the latest charging technology quickly, cost-effectively and using a minimum of resources.
Taking the train into the future
Today, the world’s oldest means of mass transportation is already among the most modern in terms of environmental friendliness. In Europe, the degree of electrification is 54 percent. To cut greenhouse gases, this share is being rapidly increased. In addition, suburban trains and trams are among the most important modes of transport in urban areas.
European railway companies have committed to a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. PFISTERER is supplying numerous components for this task – from insulators for overhead lines to the catenary wire tensioning system and energy distribution in the train.
Li-ion batteries and fuel cells
New drive concepts are also in demand: battery-powered locomotives, chargeable or with a fuel-cell drive, are gaining ground on secondary lines as a replacement for diesel engines. Here too, PFISTERER offers the appropriate high-performance technology.
Across all of Europe with PLUG
And at speeds up to 350 km/h (217 mph) – as the patented connection system by PFISTERER ensures reliable electrical connections not only in wind turbines but also in many high-speed trains from Portugal to Russia. In the German Intercity Express (ICE), in the French TGV, and in Spanish and Russian Velaro trains. Some 20-30 PLUG connectors are fitted in every ICE power head.
A reliable connection
Numerous regional and suburban trains also utilise the reliable PLUG system by PFISTERER in the rough everyday railway environment. Robust PLUG connectors provide a touch-safe connection for underfloor transformers, traction drives, battery connections and air-conditioning systems in trains by Siemens, Alstom and Bombardier. They defy heat, rain, snow, cold and gravel impact on the roof and under the floor – for outputs of up to 1,250 amps and voltages up to 4 kV.
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On a great voyage
Giant, counter-rotating bow thrusters on the two ships Guangzhou and PR China of the Chinese Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) require up to 24 electrical connections. Since 2003, they have been sailing the world’s oceans, equipped with submersible PLUG connectors.
From Mauritius to the Netherlands
TENSOREX C+ was first choice from the start for the operators of the new Mauritius Metro Express, because of the harsh sea air. It was also first choice for the Beijing Western Suburban Line in China. The system has been tried and tested since 2007 on the “Betuweroute” freight railway to the port of Rotterdam. And on Hungary’s #2 rail link, the Budapest-Esztergom line, its compact design is especially suited to the newly renovated stations and Hungary’s longest tunnel – the 780 metre Kopár-hágó.
Components for electrification
Since the 1940s, PFISTERER has supplied components for overhead contact lines for electric railways, including cantilevers, suspension clamps, connectors and insulators. Today, these are in continuous use in railway substations and on numerous lines worldwide – for example on the 600 km Tianjin-Shenyang route in China, and in Turkey on the high-speed line between Ankara and Istanbul.
Composite insulators in use on railways – since 1978
In 1978, the first silicone composite insulators by PFISTERER went into service in a railway network, in the Lötschberg Summit Tunnel in Switzerland. PFISTERER has more than 40 years of experience as a pioneer in this field, and supplies complete solutions from a single source.
Non-contact from the Teletest to the KP-Test 5D
PFISTERER’s long history of safety technology is evident in the continuous evolution of our products. First launched 40 years ago under the name Teletest, non-contact HV voltage detectors have been continuously developed up to the present day – and the latest KP-Test 5D.
The “D” stands for distance. In the early 1980s the term “Tele” was used, but the basic principle remains the same: non-contact and safe voltage detection up to 420 kV. A probe detects electric fields, and emits warning tones at decreasing intervals as it approaches a live conductor – like a vehicle reversing sensor.
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Resilient and safe
The innovative earthing and short-circuiting equipment in the Gotthard is installed on the tunnel ceiling. It is non-obstructive, fully accessible and extremely resilient.
Voltage detectors – perfectly adapted to the available space and conditions – are located in secure boxes every 500 m in the tunnel. These boxes also withstand the pressure caused by trains passing at 250 km/h.
Pluggable, modular, versatile
With its new pluggable earthing poles, PFISTERER offers a large modular range for the operation of disconnectors and safety devices for various contact line voltages
Innovation as a business driver
Silicone, metal, ceramic
We make our high-performance products from silicone, metal and ceramic materials – and always consider the sustainability of our activities.
We continuously invest in the quality of our manufacturing processes, building on our 100 years of experience and our employees’ unique knowledge.
Metalworking – present and past
Precision metalworking has been a core competence of PFISTERER since the beginning. Over ten decades, our metalworking processes have continuously developed and improved.
Today our production facilities are state-of-the-art and extensively automated, meeting the highest quality requirements and guaranteeing the durability and safety of our products.
Sustainably saving resources
One plastic bag on its own is not much, but with over 110,000 transformer terminals packaged each year, they soon add up to a mountain. PFISTERER saves 27.5 km of plastic film per year – just by switching this packaging to paper. All as part of our sustainability strategy. And this is only one example among many. We have been putting smart resource-saving ideas into practice for quite some time. Back in 1990, PFISTERER launched an internal “recycle, not waste” initiative. In 1994, we switched to CFC-free cleaning processes, and last year PFISTERER invested in three measures at the Gussenstadt plant to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and lubricant usage.
Science and research
Development activities always involve collaboration. With a view to achieving the best possible technical outcome, PFISTERER works closely with institutes, universities and scientific bodies – to improve and define technical standards.
PFISTERER has a very special relationship with CIGRÉ, the International Council on Large Electric Systems. Both were founded in 1921 and are celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2021. In 1973, the CIGRÉ conference was held in Stuttgart at the invitation of the city, the state government and PFISTERER.
And the insulators in the famous Faraday cage at the Deutsches Museum in Munich were sourced from the PFISTERER Group. In 2018, they were replaced after 66 years of service. The show attracts around 200,000 visitors every year. Attending the first demonstration following the replacement were TV broadcaster ZDF with astrophysicist, presenter and university lecturer Prof. Dr. Harald Lesch.
A family-owned business since 1921
Karl Pfisterer had a clear goal when he established his “factory for special electrotechnical articles” in 1921: to manufacture a better electrical fitting. As a pioneer in electrical engineering, from 1900 he had worked as an installer for the P. Schröder company, later becoming its technical plant manager for the construction of local electricity networks in Germany and other countries. His own inventions were influential in this role. After his father’s death, Walter Pfisterer took over the business in 1942 and shaped it according to his ideas for 40 years – from post-war reconstruction to laying the foundations for an international group of companies by the end of the 1970s. Karl-Heinz Pfisterer has continued this development since 1981, first as Managing Director and today as a member of the Supervisory Board. PFISTERER benefits from the company’s independence, and is still 100% owned by the family.
As the world looked on at the unique roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich, the PFISTERER team had reason to be pleased: by manufacturing more than 600,000 load-bearing and tension clamps for the curved steel cable net, they made the bold structure possible.
The head of development at Pfisterer convinced star architect Günter Benisch and Fritz Leonhardt, builder of the Stuttgart TV tower, with the simple Swabian words: “Des hebt!” (it will last forever). The Olympic roof will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022 – and so far not one of the PFISTERER clamps has had to be replaced.
We are a globally active company – with a distribution network in 70 countries on all continents and 21 locations in Europe, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East.
In the 1950s, PFISTERER resumed its international activities with the establishment of its first site in Switzerland, but in 1937 PFISTERER had been present in almost all European countries via 22 foreign representatives. The company continued its international expansion from the 1970s onwards.
Having a local presence gives PFISTERER an in-depth understanding of country-specific standards and regulations.