Engineering and innovation


EU8To introduce new technological and plant-engineering solutions, new instruments and methods aimed at improving plant reliability and thus service quality, Terna mainly uses internal engineers, who base their work on careful monitoring and analyzing the operation of equipment and plants. Terna also makes use of the specialist assistance of builders, of cooperation with universities, of RSE S.p.A. (Ricerca Sistema Energetico), and of CESI S.p.A., a company providing specialist services, in which it holds a 42.4% equity interest.

Research on innovation and the development of new engineering solutions is organized in four categories.

Aim Projects and progress made in 2011


Designing towers with less visual encumbrance and/or better environmental integration

High-performance tubular single-pole towers

Designing completed of special high-performance towers for 380 kV lines.

(see box…)

International “Pylons of the Future” competition

Executive designing begun of single and double circuit prototypes of the Dutton-Rosental winning pylon.

Upgrading the transmission capacity of existing lines

Innovative, high-performance conductors

Experience consolidated of the INVAR-ZTAL conductors, featuring a high temperature limit and reduced elongation, which are useful for solving problems connected with distance from sensitive places.

Feasibility studies have begun for the installation of high-temperature conductors of a type other than INVAR-ZTAL.

A first type of these conductors has a highly resistant steel support and aluminum cladding.

A second type uses carbon fiber cables. For these conductors, experiments are under way on a segment of a high-altitude line. An experimental installation has also been developed with a carbon fiber conductor on a mountain stretch.

The study and experimental installation have been completed of an innovative conductor that limits overload by wet snow.

New technology for high voltage cables


The new generation HV cable (using technology that has already been consolidated on MV), completely produced with recyclable raw materials, is currently being experimented. It will ensure a reduction in the environmental impact of grids and, at the same time, a rise in the capacity to transfer energy.


Early warning of abnormalities

New sensors on equipment and machinery

In the Lacchiarella station, installation of the new sensors on the equipment and machinery of the 380 kV section was completed. Another kind is currently being installed on the 132 kV section. They will be closely observed for a period in view of their potentially widespread installation.

Analysis and monitoring of line components

Insulator Test Laboratory

A project is currently being planned for developing an experimental station for the study and monitoring of insulators. At present, the feasibility study has been concluded, which has enabled the identification of the most appropriate sites.

Temperature monitoring on high voltage cables

DTS (Distributed Temperature Sensing)

On cable connections, in order to monitor and exploit transfer capacity to the fullest, a study has begun on temperature monitoring systems available on the market with an analysis of their reliability. The technical specification for the purchase of this technology is being defined.


Reduced space and time of power station construction



Compact, rapidly installable stations

Integrated compact station equipment (MCI)

This new equipment was introduced, which performs several functions within a single container, thus reducing the space occupied by station construction.

By now the installation of this innovative equipment is routine in plants requiring greater compactness and more rapid construction time.

To ensure that service will be quickly restored in the event of “Disaster Recovery”, a 150-kV mobile station was designed and built. It is entirely mounted on three trucks that can be transported to the site of use without the need for special means of transportation

The mobile station was conceived to be quickly installed on 150 kV lines through connections with connector cables. Everything has been factory-tested.

The SCRI (Compact, rapidly installable stations) was first used to connect a photovoltaic plant in Aprilia; it entered into regular operation on December 21, 2010. As of 2011, the installation of other stations has continued (in the regions of Lazio, Apulia, Sardinia and Sicily). Given the advantages of this solution, a 380-kV mobile station has also been designed. Contact is currently being made with constructors to assess the possibility of developing it.


Transformer Safety

New power-transformer project

Owing to serious malfunctioning in power transformers, a series of improvements was introduced aimed at increasing their safety. In particular, polymeric insulators will be installed, which tolerate stress better.

In addition, a series of measures will be taken to reinforce windings and cases, which will be tested with the “short-circuit trial” carried out for each type of transformer.

“Short-circuit trials” will be repeated on all types, since the majority of the previous trials date back to several years ago.

The first sustainable “super grid” in Lombardy: “Chignolo Po-Maleo”EU8

maleo.gifIn the early months of 2012, the extra-high voltage “Chignolo Po-Maleo” power line entered into operation, an energy highway that runs for 24 km between the provinces of Pavia and Lodi. Built by Terna in record-breaking time - since the opening of the construction sites, the works were completed after only 18 months - this energy infrastructure has become operational 6 months ahead of schedule. More record-breaking results for this power line: the “Chignolo Po-Maleo” is in fact the most ecological power line in Italy with about two thirds of the track built using low environmental impact “single-pole” tubular pylons. Terna has installed 88 of these pylons, out of a total of 136 pylons making up the work, of which 11 are of a high performance, special type, mounted for the first time ever on this line: they are unique in the world, since they can also be used on non-linear routes and on impervious and mountainous terrains. Single-pole pylons represent for Terna a breakthrough in sustainable technology; they stand between 24 and 51 meters high, weigh between 20 and 70 tons, have a base diameter between one and a half and four meters, and reduce the occupied ground volume by 15 times compared to traditional truncated-pyramid pylons.

The environmental data of the first phase – already completed – involving the removal of the old line are also particularly important: 91 pylons removed for a total of 31 km of old power lines; 310,000 square meters of land freed from the power line, 910 cubic meters of concrete removed, 1,000 tons of steel recovered and re-entered into the production cycle, 246 km of power conductors recovered for disposal and recycling (a length of more than 7 times the distance between Pavia and Lodi).

The “Chignolo Po-Maleo” power line, approved in November 2009, is of strategic importance for the Lombardy region and will allow the electricity system to save over 25 million euro a year compared to 250 million euro invested. It will create greater efficiency for the electricity system in one of the country’s most critical areas that alone represents 20% of the entire national demand and is the most important industrial pole in Italy and a crucial hub for central Europe.


The INTEGRIT project

The INTEGRIT project (integration of power transmission cables into large road and highway infrastructures), launched in 2011, is aimed at studying and identifying technical solutions useful in developing cabling projects in synergy with road and highway infrastructures. In addition to Terna, the Universities of Padua and Turin and a number of specialized companies will take part in this project.

The project is partially funded by the CCSE (Electricity Equalisation Fund ) and will run for three years.

The solutions developed during the project may be used for the future cable connection linking Piedmont to Savoy (Italy-France) and for the new HVAC submarine cable for future submarine connections with the islands of Campania and the Island of Elba.