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Northern Powergrid to trial new transformers that could reduce annual losses by 2GWh

Image: Northern Powergrid.

Image: Northern Powergrid.

Northern Powergrid (NPg) has announced a trial of transformers that could reduce core losses by up to 90%.

The DNO is the first in the UK to try out the super low loss ground-mounted Amorphous transformers (AMTs), which could save up to 2GWh of annual losses, it said.

These losses cause approximately 1.5% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of these, 25% occur at the transformer, as such lessening losses could significantly reduce emissions.

NPg's smart grid development engineer Aisha Ahmad said that losses had been an “unavoidable reality of network operation” for too long.

“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 losses are caused by hysteresis and eddy current losses, created by the alternating magnetic field applied to a transformer's core. This makes them a constant feature of most transformers from the moment they are turned on.

AMTs however, are made from materials that have low core loss properties of the materials, and as such can dramatically reduce them.

Over the next year, NPg will use the AMTs at its Jarrow, Consett and Bishop Auckland sites, as well as two sites in Hull. Throughout the trial, sound testing, thermal imaging and power quality testing to monitor the performance of five transformers.

It will allow NPg to understand their environmental noise and power factors, along with how best to install the assets. Following the trial, the DNO will decide whether or not to include AMTs in future specifications.

The trial forms part of NPg's wider Losses Discretionary Reward programme, which it is planning to submit to Ofgem in March 2020. This will include a number of different activities including improving company’s understanding of network losses, engaging with stakeholders, and delivering real improvements, it said.

The AMTs are manufactured by Wilson Power Solution, which has over 1,000 installations of Super Low Loss transformers across the UK.

Ayah Alfawaris, Marketing Manager at Wilson Power Solutions, said: "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.”

The DNO has recently laid claim to another first in the UK, after procuring flexibility through an e-auction. In October, it launched a fleet of electric vans with on-board energy storage systems to restore power during power cuts and planned maintenance.

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