Companies can save up to 70%, (around £100,000) and gain another 10 – 20 years in the life of a transformer through refurbishment practices. In an address to over 150 delegates at the Euro TechCon Conference in the Holiday Inn, Stratford-upon-Avon, Elizabeth MacKenzie, technical director at Winder Power detailed the cost and benefits of refurbishing transformer assets in today’s energy industry.
Recently, UK Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) stated from April 2015 over the period of eight years, 1,012 primary (33kV) transformers will be refurbished while just 888 will be replaced. It is predicted that this will cost the UK over £200 million. Refurbishment of a transformer can save cost and time with respect to the purchase of a new one and get another 10- 20 years life out of the asset.
Addressing these needs in her presentation titled, ‘Transformer Refurbishment, Why and What’; MacKenzie spoke about the pressure of regulation from Europe and the UK and the benefits of refurbishment in meeting these requirements, “Regulators are pushing for efficiency and savings, and there are too many aged transformers to replace at once. With over 50,000 transformers, both public and privately owned, across the UK over 10% will require some form of refurbishment service in the next 5 years.”
MacKenzie was joined by Carlos Vila, asset management engineer, Scottish Power during her presentation to discuss a particular cost savings project that Winder Power completed for Scottish Power. The project, for the refurbishment of four transformers at Watling Street and Gartsherrie in Scotland, undertaken in 2013, incurred significant cost savings compared with the price of new transformers, and delayed their replacement. The 47-year old transformer asset lives were not only extended by 10 to 20 years, but additional asset benefits included; protection devices replaced by updated, modern instruments and reduction of contamination to the environment from leaking transformer oil.
“It is important to understand that with each refurbishment project, an assessment is required. Certain criteria need to be reviewed in order to ascertain what level of refurbishment is required – most notably its age, load capacity, oil condition, criticality, and maintenance records. Confidence in the ability to refurbish and renew transformers is most definitely growing across the UK and Europe. We are now seeing new features and services being generated in the industry such as asset post-mortem analysis, along with ongoing research projects with educational institutions such as the University of Manchester, all of which are improving the quality of the refurbishment process,” Vila added.
The joint presentation was one of the first to take place on the opening day of Euro TechCon, and followed an evening reception hosted by Winder Power in the venue for delegates, presenters and organisers of the event.