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24/03/2015 14:08

Transformers need modernising worldwide

Across the world, many utilities face the same challenge: How to replace transformers from the 1950s without interrupting the power supply, explains Claude Rajotte, chairman of Cigré’s transformer committee.

"The members on our transformer committee, one of 16 Cigré study committees, hail from across the world and bring to the table expertise from utilities, manufacturers, consultancies, and universities. There are 24 regular members, plus 20 observer members. All of them bring concerns from their respective countries; some challenges are universal, others can be quite diverse and specialised.

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Several utilities in the world today must grapple with the situation that most of their transformers were installed in the 1950s and 1960s. These now need replacing or refurbishing. However, to renew the infrastructure and at the same time offer a reliable delivery of electricity is a major challenge. The question of efficiency is also of great concern. Losses represent on average 10 percent of the transported energy and transformers represent one third of this. Better designs and new technology can significantly improve efficiencies.

The insulating fluid used in transformers is very important. Mineral oils dominate and will continue to do so in the near future, although some interesting alternatives are being developed. One significant advantage of mineral oil is that it can be recycled easily and economically."

About the author:

Upon graduation from l'École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal, Claude Rajotte joined Hydro-Québec, where he now specialises in substations. In 2010, Rajotte was elected chairman of the Transformers Study Committee (A2) of the International Council of Large Electrical Systems (Cigré).

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