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Monday, 07 January 2019 11:30

Trends in transformers technology - Part I

Written by Mladen BANOVIC

Abstract

Many papers and reports show that the operating conditions of transformers in the grid are becoming more and more severe while the impacts and costs of loss of power supply are high and growing, forcing utilities to improve the requirements for transformers. This opens the space for innovations in transformers technology. The promise of main trends in transformers technology seems to be huge, and while there are many publicly available reports that analyse and forecast markets trends, there are no similar reports that focus on transformers technology trends despite the need for them in the industry. One of the reasonable means to evaluate trends is survey. This article describes a survey which was prepared and conducted with an aim to obtain an unbiased insight into the future trends in transformers technology over the next five years.

Keywords: survey, transformer, technology

  1. Introduction

Many papers and reports show that the operating conditions of transformers in the grid are becoming more and more severe. More severe operating conditions imply more catastrophic transformer failures which can lead to massive blackouts. In addition, the risks associated with severe weather conditions and threats of terrorism are also becoming more and more pronounced. This results in high and growing costs and impacts of loss of power supply. An estimated cost of interruptions in the electricity supply only for the USA is $150 billion a year. The changes in the operating conditions force utilities and other transformer users to improve the requirement specifications for transformers, as well as for transformer materials and components. All this opens the space for innovations in transformers technology.

  1. Motivation

The promise of main trends in transformers technology seems to be huge. The concepts like digital transformers, pluggable transformers, eco-designed transformers, high-temperature and superconducting transformers, solid-state transformers, nanomaterials, etc. are only some of the sound notions portraying potential revolution in transformers technology in the near future. However, while there are many publicly available reports bringing forecasts and analyses of market trends (e.g. transformer market reports, bushing market reports, transformer oil market reports, steel market reports, etc.), there are no publicly available reports that analyse and forecast transformers technology trends despite the need for evaluation of these trends in the industry. Such reports would better depict the real potential or likelihood for success of these new concepts and trends, which would surely be beneficial for stakeholders across the entire value chain.

On one side, transformer manufacturers look at the needs and pain points of transformer end-users, and on the other they look for materials and components which will enable them to develop right solutions for these end-users, taking into account their overall abilities, tools, processes, etc. In turn, suppliers of transformer materials and components need relevant information from transformer manufacturers and transformer end-users in order to develop right materials and right components. Finally, transformer end-users need relevant information about available solutions in order to be able to choose and test those among them that will solve their pain points with a highest possible likelihood.

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