Northern Powergrid trials low-loss transformer

Northern Powergrid is to trial five transformers with far lower energy losses than the technology currently used. The  ’super low loss’ ground-mounted amorphous transformers (AMTs) are expected to reduce core losses by up to 90%, compared to the older ground-mounted distribution transformers they will replace.

Over 1000 of the transformers have been installed on industrial and commercial sites since they were launched a decade ago, including Unilever, McCain Foods, Tesco, Edinburgh University, the University of East Anglia, Manchester University and hospital sites. This is the first time they have been used in the distribution network. 

Transformers in the distribution network account for a quarter of the power that ‘leaks’ in the journey from the generator to the consumer, according to NPG, which says the new AMTs have the potential to produce an annual losses savings of up to 2GWh. Installation should be completed in 1Q 2020.

“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,” said Aisha Ahmad, smart grid development engineer at Northern Powergrid. “Trials like this will help build our understanding of losses, support decarbonisation and make Northern Powergrid’s network as efficient and reliable as possible.”

Over the next 12 months, Northern Powergrid will carry out sound testing, thermal imaging and power quality testing to monitor the performance of five AMTs, which are being installed at strategically selected sites in Jarrow, Consett, Bishop Auckland and two  two sites in Hull.

The scheme forms part of NPG’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.

Wilson Power Solutions manufacture the e2 Super Low Loss AMTs and in 2018 launched a new ‘ultra low loss’ version (e3) not used in this trial. Both meet EU energy efficiency requirements that come into force in 2021. Freedom Group, now part of NG Baily, will be responsible for delivering the AMT installation work as part of its contracted framework with the DNO.