Could the end for energy guzzling transformers be the dawn of a new industrial revolution?


IMG_0159In this sponsored post, Wilson Power marketing manager Dr Lore Grohmann outlines how the EU Eco Design Directive for transformers is set to drive significant energy efficiency gains across Europe’s power distribution networks – and why it could help the UK overcome its infrastructure investment myopia.

What is the EU Eco Design Directive for transformers?

The European Commission estimates that around 2.5% of all energy consumed in the EU is wasted through transformer losses.

The introduction of the EU Eco Design directive for transformers recognises the fact that modern power and distribution transformers have the ability to generate significant energy savings. The directive has been devised to eliminate the worst performing transformer models from being installed across the EU by imposing strict new design requirements affecting transformer losses.

It is expected to save in the region of 16TWh per year from 2020 onwards.

The new directive will take effect from July 2015 (Tier 1) with a second phase (with even more stringent requirements) being planned for 2021 (Tier 2).

What does that mean for you and the transformer(s) on your site?

Traditional distribution transformers are contributing to important energy losses across the UK’s distribution networks. Whilst much focus is placed on products that provide a high visual impact such as LED lights or Solar PV, the unassuming distribution transformer could provide an immediate energy saving opportunity. Why?

Reducing transformer losses for guaranteed lifelong energy savings

Two types of losses are present in the operation of transformers:

  1. a) No-load losses that occur in the transformer cores due to hysteresis and eddy current losses which are constant and present as soon as the transformer is energised – that is 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
  2. b) Load losses that occur in the transformer’s electrical circuit due to resistive losses that are a function of loading conditions.

Put simply, once your distribution transformer is energised you are wasting energy through the associated losses.

Wilson Power Solutions acknowledged this unnecessary waste and pioneered the UK’s first super low loss distribution transformer incorporating amorphous core technology in 2009. The Wilson e2 transformer product already exceeds Eco Design specifications planned for 2021, thus achieving superior lifetime savings in both energy costs and associated CO2 emissions.

Would you drive 100 miles a day, five times a week in a 25 year old car?

Not many people would be comfortable commuting long distances in a 25 year old car on a regular basis. You can probably see the banknotes draining away at the pump right now just thinking about it. Yet surprisingly few people realise that operating an old, inefficient distribution transformer is not much different.

With a minimum product life expectancy of 25 years it really is imperative to select a transformer with the lowest losses for new installations (payback on upfront capital investment is typically achieved within three years meaning 22 years of net adding to your bottom line!) wherever possible.

Where your existing capital equipment is 15 years or older, fast-tracking a replacement could be a very effective energy efficiency measure: Replacing old transformer technology with new super low loss amorphous solutions such as the Wilson e2 can generate up to 5% in energy savings through loss reduction alone.

Can total cost of ownership thinking make a difference?

As part of the new legislation, national regulating authorities advise to go above and beyond specified minimum loss levels and choose the most energy efficient product where economically justified. However, this way of thinking doesn’t come naturally – for some reason we often are pretty short sighted when making big infrastructure decisions: Where our European neighbours i.e. Germany have long opted for the best possible machinery and infrastructure equipment in order to secure long term benefits, our focus has been to keep upfront investments to a minimum. It might not initiate a new industrial revolution but I think that adopting total cost of ownership thinking could help transform your business. Do you agree?

Dr Lore Grohmann is Marketing Manager at Leeds-based Wilson Power Solutions.


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