The Ultimate Guide to HV Efficiency

The energy industry can often be complex, which is why we try to help simplify its complicated nature and keep customers up to date on the ever-evolving technologies. We believe that this will help you and your business make educated decisions regarding your energy-efficient choices surrounding your business activities. 

This blog will act as a guide on how efficiencies can be made from using HV technologies, ranging from the materials used in on-site distribution transformers to combined HV/LV solutions, and the power of remote monitoring capabilities.

Greater efficiencies with HV 

Many facilities explore upgrading their HV infrastructure to maximise efficiencies and reduce electricity consumption. This has led to the development of core materials that experience lower losses and are more efficient than the materials traditionally used to manufacture distribution transformers. The amorphous alloy core, for example, has already achieved a reputation for delivering results. This well-established material has been widely studied and tested across a wide range of applications.

When compared to Cold-rolled Grain-orientated (CRGO) ‘rigid’ cores, the amorphous alloy has a flexible atom structure that allows for easy magnetisation and demagnetisation to take place. This helps to improve efficiencies and reduces the amount of wasted energy.

Further benefits of installing a distribution transformer are that it’s designed bespoke to the site’s exact requirements. When provided, distribution transformers are designed and delivered from concept to completion, enhancing its resilience and increased HV efficiencies. 

Why you should upgrade your transformer

It is the case that due to the long-lasting nature of transformers, they have an estimated lifespan of 30-40 years, many transformers that are currently in use were manufactured at a time when different materials were available and aspects that are prioritised now were not seen as highly important.

One of these key aspects is the sustainability and environmentally friendly nature of materials that have grown in significance over recent years as the importance of battling climate change has intensified. An upgrade to a new transformer that has been made in today’s climate which prioritises sustainability will enable an organisation to reduce carbon emissions.

Older transformers are often drastically less efficient than newer transformers, exemplified by the ability of new amorphous core transformers to achieve up to 75% lower core losses compared to traditional CRGO transformers.

 

Additionally, some newer transformers, such as a bespoke manufactured Powerstar SO-LO low loss amorphous core transformer, comply with and exceed the 2021 EU Ecodesign Directive Standards. Older transformers are very unlikely to comply with these standards and therefore despite enhancing their long-expected lifespan are outdated when measured against contemporary standards.

Changing a traditional transformer with a more efficient amorphous core transformer will reduce energy consumption and costs for businesses that manage their own HV infrastructure.

Can tapping my transformer achieve greater efficiencies?

With distribution transformers, voltage reduction can be achieved by changing the tapping of the transformer. Achieving a reduction in this manner is not recommended. By tapping, you can get different turns ratio and the ability to control output, therefore achieving a form of voltage management. However, when you alter the tapping, it affects the number of coils and the impedance of the transformer. This leads to an increase in the transformer current if the voltage is reduced, or a deduction in the transformer current in the event of an increase in voltage.

Ideally, HV transformers should not be tapped beyond the settings they were specified and built to, as this is when they will operate at their optimal efficiency. Utilising this as a method to reduce the voltage is inefficient due to the relationship between voltage and current. Reducing the voltage in the transformer output by 5% will increase the current by the same percentage. Using this example, the losses in the transformer would increase by 25%. In the case of a typical 1000kVA transformer with a load loss of 8kW, based on a 75% load, reducing the voltage by 5% will increase these losses to 10kW, which will increase the site consumption by 17,520kWh a year, therefore inflating a site’s energy bill.

For this reason, HV transformers should be set to a tap based on the site requirements, such as site capacity, to ensure that they operate at maximum efficiency. 

Optimal efficiency with voltage management

The most effective method of reducing voltage to achieve savings is through purpose-built voltage management technology as part of a combined solution involving an amorphous core distribution transformer integrated with electronic-dynamic voltage management, such as the Powerstar HV MAX. The HV MAX combines the benefits of a super low loss amorphous core transformer, which reduced load losses by up to 75% when compared with a traditional CRGO distribution transformer, with the benefits of LV electronic-dynamic voltage management, which reduces and stabilises the on-site voltage providing energy consumption and cost savings.

Due to this combination of technology, Powerstar HV MAX is suitable for sites operating their own HV/LV supply alongside sites with a high incoming voltage profile and an inefficient HV/LV distribution transformer

Advantages of installing a smart distribution transformer 

Technology all around the world continues to evolve and connectivity is quickly becoming sought after in all types of electrical equipment as we head towards Industry 4.0. However, until recently, distribution transformers have been left behind as electrical equipment around it is revolutionised, integrated with internet connectivity and other pairing technologies that increase the visibility of asset performance and diagnostics.

This is surprising considering distribution transformers play a vital role in the HV infrastructure of facilities across the UK. In most cases, a distribution transformer is energised 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is even when it does not carry a load, to ensure the building receives the correct electricity supply that is safe for use. Therefore, a fault or breakdown would wreak havoc on your operations and can be extremely difficult to predict, especially when outside the annual inspection periods. 

Manage your energy effectively

Until recently, facilities have been unable to upgrade their distribution transformers in a way that promotes connectivity with other energy-saving, smart building control systems for full visibility of their energy use. 

Currently, once a distribution transformer is installed it remains a standalone device that is often left alone until it requires attention or even repairing. Additionally, while essential to the transformers upkeep, annual manual inspections are ineffective at providing ongoing insights into the site’s energy use.

Smart distribution transformers with internet connectivity and remote monitoring capabilities, such as Powerstar SO-LO, are now available. The remote monitoring functionality of the technology can deliver easy to analyse information to users, displaying manageable top-level statistics that show the state and performance of the distribution transformer. The range of statistics available can consist of grid information, conditional performance, and energy efficiency reports. From the wide range of crucial data available, companies can utilise the data to discover further savings and energy efficiency optimisations to deliver the best return on investment.

With a smart transformer, potential problems that may cause a breakdown can be identified sooner or avoided before the building’s electricity supply is affected. This system provides you with an instant alert or warning if a problem is detected. 

The platform, which can be accessed by the relevant individuals from anywhere with a secure internet connection, will also provide reports on oil analysis, voltage, amps, phase to phase metrics. Information such as real power, power factor, core temperature, harmonic distortion, system kVA, system kWh, and GPS location is also available for larger facilities. 

By monitoring such aspects, you can quickly resolve any potential issues, both reducing downtime of the distribution transformer and the financial implications involved with solutions that are out of use. 

To find out more about smart distribution transformers and remote monitoring functionality, click here or on the button below. Alternatively, if this 3-part guide on HV efficiency has left anything unanswered, don’t hesitate to get in touch and ask us a question

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