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E.ON to install 180 new voltage-regulated distribution transformers by the end of 2014

E.ON distribution system operators (DSOs) in Germany will put up to 180 new voltage-regulated distribution transformers (VRDTs) into service by the end of the year.

The Smart grid technology is to be deployed nationwide. About 60 of the VRDTs, which incorporate the technology from Bavaria-based Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen (MR), are already operational. The nationwide rollout, which will encompass all of E.ON's distribution systems in Germany, makes VRDT the first smart grid technology to achieve technological maturity. The technology was developed in a close partnership between E.ON and MR.

The VRDT technology developed by E.ON, Germany's largest DSO, and by MR, a recognised technology leader, sets new standards for the cost-effective integration of renewables. The German Energy Agency estimates that in Germany's low-voltage networks alone VRDTs could reduce the cost of network expansion by roughly €1.4 billion between now and 2030.

VRDTs significantly increase distribution systems' ability to handle renewables feed-in. And even when renewables feed-in is very high, VRDTs ensure stable and efficient network operations, thereby reducing the need for network expansion. As a reliable, cost-effective technology, VRDT is in harmony with the energy-policy triad, which seeks to achieve an energy supply that is secure, affordable, and environmentally friendly.

Ilse Aigner, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Media, Energy, and Technology said:

"This technology is a great example of how the Energiewende is promoting innovation. This high-tech transformer demonstrates that smart grids aren't a vision of the future but have already become reality. By eliminating the need for some network expansion, VRDTs will reduce the burden on our citizens and communities."

Dr. Thomas König, member of the E.ON Deutschland Board of Management said:

"By rolling out VRDTs with MR technology, E.ON is the first DSO in Germany to deploy smart grid technology across all of its service territories. It will enable us to integrate renewables into our distribution networks at a much lower cost. With this technology, E.ON is making a significant contribution to expanding distributed generation and maintaining stable network fees."

E.ON and MR have been collaborating since 2008 to test cost-effective solutions for increasing the distribution system's ability to accept more renewables feed-in. Drawing on the results of extensive pilot projects conducted in recent years, in September 2012 MR became the first company in the world to present a technologically mature solution for VRDTs. Called GRIDCON® iTAP®, the system consists of an on-load tap-changer, a regulator, and a sensor for the low-voltage network. When combined with a transformer, the system yields a VRDT.

MR CEO Dr. Nicolas Maier-Scheubeck said:

"The close collaboration between E.ON and MR engineers enabled us to develop a product that best meets DSOs' requirements."

There are noteworthy parallels between E.ON and MR's partnership to develop VRDT technology and the development of the first on-load tap-changer in the 1920s. Back then, Oberpfalzwerken, a utility in southeast Germany whose successor entities are now part of E.ON, and MR worked together to develop a technology that remains integral to today's transformer and through which flows more than half of the electricity consumed worldwide.