ABB transformers are ready to meet or exceed new EU ecodesign requirements

David Hughes, Head of Power Products for ABB UK & Ireland, explains how new legislation now in force calls for new transformers to fulfill minimum energy efficiency requirements, while ABB is leading the way with innovative technology such as amorphous core dry-type transformers
June 2014 saw the introduction of new ecodesign transformer regulations within the EU`s internal market. This means that all new transformers put into service in the EU must fulfil minimum energy efficiency requirements from July 1, 2015, giving the industry and market a period of grace of only one year to adapt.

Large amounts of power pass through transformers, which account for 30-40 percent of the losses in transmission and distribution systems. Even a marginal increase in transformer efficiency can significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

The new EU ecodesign regulation covers small, medium and large power transformers used in electrical transmission and distribution networks, and for industrial applications. However, it does not apply to all transformer products; for example, single phase transformers are unaffected.
The new legislation is intended to prevent high loss transformers from being installed in the EU, but the first phase (Tier 1) of efficiency requirements that come into play in July 2015 are only the start. By 2021, a Tier 2 standard will require transformer designs to be about 10 percent more energy efficient than Tier 1.
The European Commission (EC) estimates the combined effect of all ecodesign minimum efficiency regulations at full implementation will contribute to about one-third of its energy efficiency target. (The 20/20/20 targets include a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20 percent rise in the share of renewable resources to Europe’s energy needs, and 20 percent more efficiency in energy use across the EU).
By eliminating the worst performing transformer models, the EC expects energy savings in the range of 16 terawatt hours (TWh) per year from 2020 onwards (equal to about half the annual electricity consumption of Denmark), equivalent to 3.7 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 emissions avoided.
Transformers are generally very efficient devices, but even marginal improvements in their efficiency can yield substantial energy savings since their typical service life is 30 years or more. Multiply these new efficiencies by the estimated 3.6 million installed transformers in Europe in 2011, which is expected to rise to nearly 4.7 million units by 2025, and the energy savings are considerable.’
ABB technology offers a head start
We can help our customers make a head start in meeting the new regulations, since ABB’s advanced technology already enables the production today of highly efficient transformers that exceed the rigorous demands of tomorrow, such as the anticipated Tier 2 standard planned for introduction in 2012. A typical example is the low-loss amorphous core technology, well proven in liquid-filled transformers, that has been adopted for ABB’s ultra-efficient EcoDry dry-type distribution transformers.
EcoDry transformers offer all the practical advantages associated with dry-type transformers such as: no fire risk; no risk of escape of pollutants or fire-hazardous substances; long lifetime; high mechanical strength; ability to cope with load changes, overloads, short-circuits and over-voltages; and reduced installation footprint. They are available in ratings from 100 to 3,150 kVA, with operating voltage up to 36 kV.
The EcoDry range includes three models, each designed to meet the different needs of applications where losses are either predominantly ‘no-load’ losses (caused by fluctuating magnetization of, and eddy currents in, the transformer core), or ‘load’ losses (which occur in the conductors due to ohmic loss and eddy currents, and increase quadratically with the load), or a combination of the two.
EcoDryBasic – low-load efficiency for power utilities
Distribution transformers at power utilities often see only a low mean load in actual operation. With low load profiles, it is the no-load losses that account for the major proportion of total losses and they are three to five times higher than the load losses. This means a significant reduction in no-load losses is one of the paramount considerations for the EcoDryBasic transformer, a product developed using the very latest simulation methods for a loss-optimized design, based on 30 years of experience. The EcoDryBasic transformer is specifically designed to meet the needs of power utilities by providing low-load efficiency that reduce losses and CO2 emissions by more than 50 per cent.
EcoDry99plus – full-load efficiency for industrial applications
In an ideal world, industrial plant is operating at or near full capacity, and mean loading of the distribution transformer of 60 percent or more is not uncommon. The costs of load losses, and their reduction, can be significant.
In a typical industrial application, an EcoDry99plus transformer rated at 1,000 kVA, with 10,000 V primary voltage, would reduce annual power losses by more than 30,000 kWh, and cut CO2 emissions by some 18 tonnes per year. At full load, the transformer operates at over 99 percent efficiency.
EcoDryUltra – efficiency across the load range
EcoDryUltra transformers combine the advantages of the EcoDryBasic and EcoDry99Plus to minimize no-load and load losses simultaneously. This transformer type is ideal for variable loads – such as renewable energy applications – and in applications where the supply is fed through two transformers at the same time (for redundancy), and so each is continuously operated at medium load – such as in pumping or ventilation systems.