Substation built from modules in Kilpilahti

Order 10 pieces of gray containers and plug them into the grid, easy and fast!


“Well planned is half done” they say, that is modular building in a nutshell. As a supplier, ABB uses its Austrian subcontractor, Gföllner, to design and manufacture modules. Design is made in 3D surroundings, which is constantly refined as the design progresses. Via virtual goggles you can study the substation in an entirely new way, before it is even built. It is only when all the “bells and whistles” have found their place that manufacturing can start.

Modular building was a new thing for Aurora. Of course, we had seen many modular substations before but never bought one. The biggest difference compared to traditional concrete construction is the floor structure of the modules. The biggest design effort was designing the floor and its fire protection. The spare space in the floor layout and the widest possible use of it had to be taken into account.


When the last beams, centrals and lights have been implanted in the 3D model, we move to the manufacturing stage. One module at a time they move forward on the factory line, just like cars in a car factory. While the modules are being manufactured, most of the electrical equipment have been manufactured and approved elsewhere. Then they are transported to Gföllner and installed into the modules. Some of the tests can be performed already at the module factory.

Delivery and commissioning

The modules were delivered to Kilpilahti at a rate of 2 modules a week. Do we get to plug them in yet? Yes! The modules were lifted onto pillars and connected to each other at the site. While the electricians pulled cables between the modules men in white helmets observed the ongoing work, each with their own agenda in mind. On average, the workforce was around 30 people, which required good job planning and coordination. At the time of writing the biggest burden has been lifted of my shoulders as project manager. Aurora’s equipment was electrified and switched on according to schedule. Now, the only thing left is doing minor constructional repairs and correcting documentation and drawings.

Was it worth it

The project has been very educational, particularly in the planning stage. The advantage with modular building is that the substation itself can be built in clean conditions far away from the Kilpilahti process environment at the same time as ground work is being done on location. Even though there are no “ready to go” plugs in these containers, modular substations will certainly be considered as an alternative for Aurora in future ventures.

– Olli Vaittinen, Development Manager

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