Continuous online transformer monitoring will play a key role in the future maintenance and servicing of transformer fleets across Asia, as electrification and reliable grid access spreads to the continent’s rural population.
Faced with increasing demand for access to electricity, especially in rural and remote regions, as well as the growing need to support the energy-intensive stages of industrialization, Asian governments continue to invest in electrical infrastructure projects. Together these factors have led the Asia-Pacific region to become the largest market for power transformers worldwide.
Pekka Ravila, vice president of Industrial Measurements at Vaisala APAC, said: “As power generating capacity ramps up across the region, and countries try to balance the demands of bringing grid electricity to their citizens and growing industries, more transformers are being installed in the network. To ensure the expanding network is able to serve all customers, businesses and governments will need fast, accurate and reliable monitoring of power transformers.”
This growth in the size of transformer fleets will also increase pressure on monitoring and servicing teams. Asset owners will be faced with a compromise of whether to increase budgets or cut costs to service a larger transformer fleet, in which the average transformer is more remotely located.
Accurate and timely monitoring is essential, as transformer failure or extended periods of downtime due to unscheduled maintenance can prove extremely costly, as well as causing significant disruption to networks. In particular, assessing moisture levels in transformers – one of the leading causes of faults – has typically required an extensive and time-consuming manual process. Technicians are required to visit the transformer site to collect samples to be taken to a laboratory. Once in the laboratory these samples are then analyzed to confirm whether corrective action is necessary, and what kind of action that might be.
By contrast, online transformer monitoring devices provide continuous, real-time analysis of a transformer’s condition, and, as they can be directly installed into a transformer’s ball valve, there is no risk of sample contamination. Vaisala’s MHT410 device, for instance, monitors moisture, hydrogen and temperature directly in the transformer oil to give reliable trends of hydrogen and moisture levels.
Online monitoring allows technicians to know instantly what faults may or may not be developing in each transformer for which they collect data. Rather than waiting for faults to develop, plant owners and operators can proactively plan for maintenance and the replacement of faulty components, and reduce the number of required maintenance team visits to transformer sites.
“At Vaisala we have worked with clients in all climatic regions of the world to develop measurement technologies that deliver trustworthy data day after day,” added Ravila.