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The Magazine


Fresh look for high-tech

Transformers play a key role within the energy network. New features improve network availability and reduce operational hazards. These include the modular Pretact® concept and the digital monitoring of the equipment. In the future, such innovations will be visible from the outside with the IF-winning transformer design. 

Today’s electricity networks face numerous challenges: Some countries are required to expand their power networks as quickly as possible in order to meet the rapidly growing electricity demand. On the other hand, some strive towards maintain the components installed decades ago and adapting their networks to the changing conditions. This, for instance, involves the supply of energy from renewable energy sources, such as wind farms or decentralized generation. Regardless of the type of requirement, transformers belong to the “heart” of power transmission.

Ingenious high-technology

Their main purpose is still voltage conversion, which allows for the transfer of energy over long distances. However, in the green-grey tanks, there is sophisticated “high-tech” installed: innovative materials and ingenious engineering which keep the losses low and enable reliable operation over decades. Many transformers are also capable of braving earthquakes, geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) or vandalism. Some are especially designed to operate in environmentally sensitive or urban areas, and are therefore filled with biodegradable ester or provided with heat exchangers with which waste heat can be further used. 

Maintenance via Internet

Digitalization allows operators to keep all relevant operation data of their transformers in sight. They can influence the transformer operation or the network, such as for example the temperature of the tank and its surroundings or the voltage applied. A status query is possible at any time via Internet interfaces. This provides additional security and it can reduce at the same time maintenance costs, since maintenance can be carried out according to its condition instead of requiring maintenance at regular intervals. This way, many causes of unplanned outages, which are particularly expensive for power generators, can be avoided. 

Another feature is network availability: the Pretact® concept by Siemens. It contains services such as online monitoring and long-term service concepts, which prevent possible errors during the operation. It incorporates preventive modules that protect the transformer from external hazards – including GIC-safe or ester-filled transformers. Finally, a mobile "plug & play" transformer is part of the concept. These transformers have flexible voltage connections and can be transported and installed quickly and easily. They serve as a replacement after planned or unplanned outages.

The new industrial design for transformers was awarded the IF-Award by the Industrieforum Design.

Award-winning design

These properties are now visible from the outside. For this purpose, the product line – from distribution transformers to large power transformers – has been produced in a uniform industrial design. The mobile “plug & play” version has been developed with a special design, reflecting the transformer’s robust characteristics and flexible capabilities of operation. Both concepts were awarded the IF-Award by the Industrieforum Design. The newly introduced pictograms have received positive feedback from customers. They enable special features of transformers to be clearly visible from the outside, such as the ester isolation, the “plug & play” or the online monitoring option.

Picture credits: Siemens AG