Digital Transformers Changing the Way Operators Work

Digital Transformers Changing the Way Operators Work

By Energy CIO Insights | Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Among the latest additions to the power plant technologies, Digital transformers are the most practical and assist in carrying out several operations in the transmission infrastructure. 

FREMONT, CA: Digital transformers are the newest member of the modern electricity grid, which independently regulates the voltage differences. It also maintains constant contact with the smart grid to allow remote administration and real-time feedback on power supply parameters. These transformers are configured with intelligent electronic devices, smart monitoring, and diagnostics features.

A digital transformer provides the appropriate amount of power necessary and reflexes to fluctuations in the power grid, acting as a voltage regulator. These features make digital transformers optimal for power systems that are designed for integration of renewable energy. Meanwhile, digital distribution transformers provide intelligence to enhance reliability, optimize operations and maintenance costs, and handle the assets more efficiently. Technology providers are working towards integrating sensor technology into the transformer during the manufacturing process, resulting in higher accuracy.

Technology providers are also embedding digital technologies in dry-type transformers. Conventional transformers commonly use oil for cooling and insulation. But the dry-type transformers are built to work without oil, where the core and the coil are cooled by air and non-flammable solid insulation material. This phenomenon makes them stronger, safer, and more environmentally friendly. Such transformers are mostly suited for high-risk applications such as in offshore and densely populated areas and sensitive ecosystems. In digitally-enabled dry-type transformers, smart sensors collect data and congregate it to provide robust analytics.

Safety will improve substantially with the application of digital transformers. To this end, submersible transformer monitoring and inspection robots are making inroads in the market. These wireless robots can be maneuvered along a liquid-filled power transformer to evaluate performance such as speed, safety, and cost-effective internal inspection. Encrypted data that is stored can be read-only if the user possesses a decryption key to read the data. Also, the conventional cooling controls of power transformers are racing ahead towards digitalization. The cooling system of the power transformers has certain limitations. One among the restriction is that the cooling is grouped into banks, where the only possible operational states are no-cooling, half-cooling, or full-cooling. For massive power transformers, one such bank may consist of many pumps and fans. Using digital systems abolishes the limitation by providing independent control of the more relaxed banks and hence, providing a more refined regulation of cooling capacity.

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