Northern Powergrid begins UK-first trial of energy-saving transformers


NORTHERN Powergrid will be the UK’s first distribution network operator to trial super low loss ground-mounted Amorphous transformers.

The transformers can reduce core losses by up to 90%, compared to the older ground-mounted distribution transformers they’re replacing.

Ayah Alfawaris, Marketing Manager at Wilson Power Solutions, said: “We have over 1,000 installations of the Super Low Loss transformers across the UK.

“They save customers significant amounts of energy and tons of carbon dioxide. Northern Powergrid is the first distribution network operator to install Super Low Loss ground-mounted Amorphous transformers.

“This project acts as a steppingstone to showcase how forward-thinking and investing in the right technology could reduce costs for the customer and ultimately help the UK reach its net zero target.”

Network losses are the leakage of power during transportation from generation to consumption.

These losses account for approximately 1.5% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 25% of that originates from distribution transformers.

Reducing them is key to delivering climate commitments and part of Northern Powergrid’s drive to ensure the network is a key enabler of decarbonisation in the UK.

Replacement of older transformers with the new Amorphous transformers has the potential to produce an annual losses savings of up to 2GWh – enough to boil 20 million kettles and equivalent to saving 568 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

“For too long, losses have been seen as an unavoidable reality of network operation, but new technology means we can now tackle the problem head on,” Aisha Ahmad, Smart Grid Development Engineer at Northern Powergrid, commented.

“Trials like this will help build our understanding of losses, support decarbonisation and make Northern Powergrid’s network as efficient and reliable as possible.”

The scheme forms part of the company’s wider Losses Discretionary Reward programme, due to be submitted to Ofgem in March 2020.

The programme uses a mix of activities, including improving the company’s understanding of network losses, engaging with stakeholders, and delivering real improvements, to reduce losses and carbon emissions on the electricity network.

It will also enhance the understanding of technical losses and underpin loss reduction across the company’s network which delivers power to 3.9 million homes and businesses across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

Over the next 12 months, Northern Powergrid will carry out sound testing, thermal imaging and power quality testing to monitor the performance of five Amorphous transformers, which are being installed at strategically selected sites for the trial.

The selected sites are located in Jarrow, Consett and Bishop Auckland, with an additional two sites in Hull.

The findings from the trial will inform the network operator on whether to include the technology in future transformers’ specifications and how to install the assets from an operational perspective, while building its understanding of the Amorphous transformers’ environmental noise impact and power quality factors.

The outcomes will be shared as a UK case study for distribution network operators, together with commercial and industrial users.

The core losses of a transformer (also known as a no-load losses), are caused by hysteresis and eddy current losses which are constant and present from the moment of energising the transformer as a result of the alternating magnetic field applied to its core.

Because of the design of Amorphous transformers and the low core loss properties of the materials used to build them, the core losses are significantly reduced.

Wilson Power Solutions, which is experienced in manufacturing power transformers and is a pioneer of the award-winning low loss Amorphous transformers, manufactured the e2 Super Low Loss Amorphous transformers.

Freedom Group, now part of NG Baily, is Northern Powergrid’s service provider and will be responsible for delivering the Amorphous transformers installation work as part of its contracted framework with the distribution network operator.

Freedom will help ensure the installation of the five Amorphous transformers runs to plan, with the roll out due to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

Lee Mills, Operations Manager at Freedom Group, said: “We have worked with Northern Powergrid for more than a decade providing experienced engineers to safely deliver network improvements.

“Improving environmental performance and reducing our carbon footprint is a key driver for NG Bailey and Freedom. To be chosen to deliver this industry leading project for Northern Powergrid is something we are very proud of.”