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Abb delivers an extended lease of life for the UK's ageing transformer fleet

New refurbishment and upgrading service for the two most common points of failure for power transformers – tap-changers and bushings.

ABB's UK transformer service team has launched a new refurbishment and upgrading service targeted at replacing one or both of these components offering a cost-effective way to provide a life-extension of at least 10 years to the UK's massive fleet of transformers, many of which were installed 30 years ago.

The service is available for transformers from any manufacturer, and is also suitable for older legacy designs no longer supported by the original manufacturer. ABB is able to provide a direct replacement for the tap-changer or an upgrade to a state-of-the-art vacuum tap-changer.

The brittle and easily damaged porcelain oil impregnated bushings can be replaced with modern dry type resin-impregnated (RIP) bushings.

As power transformers are often the most valuable asset in a substation or plant and are also key components of high-voltage equipment for power generation plants, transmission systems and large industrial plant, unexpected failures can cause major disturbances to operating systems, resulting in unscheduled outages and power delivery problems.

Such failures can be due to poor maintenance, operating conditions, poor protection, undetected faults, or even severe lightning or short circuits. Outages can affect revenue, incur penalties and can cost a company its reputation and its customers.

The massive cost of power transformer failure provides sufficient incentive for operators to ensure reliability and availability throughout the life cycle of these key assets. Transformers typically cost from £1 million upward and on the rare occasions they do fail, the financial impact can leave a company facing financial ruin.

Although transformers are generally very dependable, the UK's current transformer fleet is quite old. The average age for those in industrial plants is 30 years, and 40 years for those used by utilities. While aging transformers are generally not "ticking time bombs," their failure rates, as well as their replacement and repair costs are steadily increasing with age.

The risks are higher for industrial and power generation plants as the transformers in these installations tend to be used more intensively. Risk of failure is also increased by other factors, including the type of application and the tendency to load transformers to their maximum in order to meet the economic needs of the deregulated environment and competitive markets.



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