Industry Analysis

Transforming T&D

The use of smart transformers is proving to be ideal for power systems designed for the integration of renewable energy.

India has been witnessing a significant rise in power demand for the past few decades on account of rapid growth in population, industrialisation and urbanisation. The total installed generation capacity is expected to reach to about 320 GW by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan. During the same time, India is likely to achieve AC transformation capacity of 670 GVA with approximately 65 GW of inter regional grid transfer capacity in addition to HVDC transmission.

Over the years, transformer technology has evolved considerably to meet the emerging requirements of utilities and enhance power system reliability. The conventional oil-filled transformers are being replaced with dry-type transformers and advanced smart transformers. The ester-filled transformers, which offer the unique features of fire resistance, biodegradability and enhanced reliability, have become popular in the transmission and distribution segments. Phase shifting transformers (PSTs) are also gaining traction as they protect the equipment from thermal overload and increase the stability of the transmission system. Further, with the increase in high voltage direct current (HVDC) lines, the demand for converter transformers has increased in recent years to enable efficient electricity transfer over long distances.

With huge investments proposed across sectors such as power, infrastructure, etc., the transformers market in India is slated for strong growth. The excess capacity in the Transformer industry in India, and entry of new players is further expected to increase market competitiveness. Market consolidation over the next few years is inevitable.

Smart transformers are an integral part of digital substations, which independently regulate voltage and maintain contact with the smart grid in order to allow remote administration and real-time feedback on power supply parameters. The use of these transformers is gaining traction at the distribution and transmission levels. These transformers are equipped with intelligent electronic devices and intelligent monitoring and diagnostics features. Besides, they provide web and supervisory control and data acquisition interfaces.

A smart transformer provides the accurate amount of power that is required and immediately responds to fluctuations within the power grid, acting as a voltage regulator. Further, as smart transformers consume less energy, they help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. During instances of power supply fluctuations, smart transformers can be monitored and controlled in real time to optimise the voltage levels. These features make smart transformers ideal for power systems designed for the integration of renewable energy.

Advanced transformer technology: Transforming T&D operating models
Anil Kadam, General Manager-Solution Architect, Schneider Electric says, “Transformers are an indispensable component of an alternate current (AC) electrical system for electricity generation, transmission or distribution. In India, power utility application holds the major share in power and distribution transformer market and is further expected to witness robust growth in the coming years.”

Advanced transformer technology work independently to constantly regulate voltage and maintain contact with the smart grid in order to allow remote administration and to provide information and feedback about the power supply and the transformer.

Smart grid will require ‘smart transformers’ – which is the epitome of energy collection and distribution. Most of the transformers in the distribution network lack any intelligence or communication capabilities – or to generalize the concept of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) – are parts of an advanced sensor infrastructure (ASI) network, he adds.

A Smart Gird Transformer (SGT) with managerial role in the electric distribution grid is generally called Smart Transformer (ST). Smart transformers work independently to constantly regulate voltage and maintain contact with the smart grid in order to allow remote administration (if needed) and to provide information and feedback about the power supply and the transformer. Moreover, these types of transformers are used in Point of Common Coupling (PCC) in a microgrid for voltage control – and it acts as a protecting device for electrical equipments during power fluctuations, Kadam further adds.

Divyansh Kohli, Executive Director, NDL Power Limited says, “Transformer is a conventional electrical application of the most basics of principles. It has been and will be around for decades to come, with the same working principle; as it was first build by William Stanley in 1885. However, there have been significant developments in the field of transformer technology; which either pertains to its efficiency or to its reliability. The earlier part of this development was majorly focused on improving the efficiencies of the transformer and reduction of AT&C losses in the T&D system. Whereas, the past few years has now been with focused development in enhancement of the systems’ reliability and ensuring ‘zero’ breakdown system. We can begin to see this change in focus, as the electrical boards have also implemented down-time based penalties towards the power distribution companies in certain part of our nation.”

We now have access to decades of database, which has enormously enhanced our capabilities to detect an incipient fault in the transformer system, may that be through NDA’s like transformer oil analysis, trending & condition monitoring, cross-data interpretation. Adding to such efforts, NDL has been leading the way from the front, by utilising our database for past 3.5 decades and collaborating all the data of your transformer assets into our patented system; ‘maxfree analyst ®’ which dynamic interprets the results, cross-analysis with other test or record data, execute trending analysis of the system and effectively diagnosis the presence of incipient fault and its rate of failure, examines Kohli.

With such technologies, which were not possible in earlier times; and now can be immediately implemented by-large across nations, globally; and with collaborate and effectively designed maintenance and condition monitoring programs, the T&D system stands to not only be more reliable, but with the reducing of breakdown – be highly economically efficient as well, he further adds.

Smart grid will require ‘smart transformers’ – which is the epitome of energy collection and distribution.
Anil Kadam, General Manager-Solution Architect, Schneider Electric

There have been significant developments in the field of transformer technology; which either pertains to its efficiency or to its reliability.
Divyansh Kohli, Executive Director, NDL Power Limited

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