Photo 106900674 © Matee Nuserm |
The core of a power transformer, made of specially milled electrical steel.

Transformer Shortage: DOE Funding R&D for Flexible Innovative Transformers

Feb. 13, 2024
As the transformer shortage grinds on, the DOE puts money toward developing more advanced designs that could alleviate supply chain issues.

Supply chain issues, new construction and demand outpacing manufacturing capacity are several factors behind the shortage of electrical transformers, a critical power grid component.

The Department of Energy is placing a bet on more advanced transformer designs that it hopes will alleviate the long lead times for new transformers, which many in the industry say are hampering outage restoration, renewable energy projects and power grid upgrades.

See previous T&D World coverage of the transformer shortage here.

Up to nine participants can draw from an $18 million funding opportunity for developing, testing and piloting new “flexible innovative transformer technologies,” according to a release from the DOE.

Last year, utilities told T&D World that the shortage has caused lead times in excess of three years in some cases. The impact is felt by utilities all over North America.

DOE’s funding is intended to boost development of new transformer designs with a wide range of transmission and distribution uses.

“More flexible and adaptable grid components will increase grid resilience at lower cost and reduce supply chain challenges facing the utility sector,” said Gene Rodrigues, Assistant Secretary for Electricity.

Transformers are critical power grid components as they step up or step down voltage as power is transmitted across the power grid. Transformer manufacturers say labor shortages, hard-to-source materials and worldwide shipping delays are among the culprits for the supply shortage.

The funding opportunity will be co-funded by the DOE Office of Electricity as well as the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response.

The two areas of interest named by the DOE are to research and develop advanced distribution transformers (flexible, modular, scalable, hybrid or solid state) as well as to demonstrate activities for advanced distribution transformers across a range of transmission-scale duties.

DOE said it expects to announce the selectees in late summer.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!