In recent years, there has been growing traction in the deployment of digital transformers. These transformers are a key constituent of a digital substation and comprise components such as sensors and intelligent electronic devices (IEDs), which allow transformer performance to be monitored and potential malfunctions to be diagnosed in advance. Digital transformers help in maintaining optimised voltage of power supply, provide real-time feedback on supply parameters, improve operational management and prevent faults. Overall, these transformers help in maintaining grid stability and quality power supply.
Digital transformers have inbuilt sensors that enable remote monitoring and intelligent asset management. These form an integral part of digital substations and can independently regulate voltage and maintain contact with smart grids in order to allow remote administration and real-time feedback on power supply parameters. These are equipped with IEDs and monitoring and diagnostic features. IEDs assess the condition of a transformer system and make recommendations based on design and component data. With this, the operator can remotely monitor the behaviour of the transformer core, windings, oil, tap changer and bushings, thereby keeping a close watch on critical transformer components. It provides dynamic control of real and reactive power that enhances the efficiency of the distribution systems, besides improving power quality in a more dynamic operating environment and limiting faulty current.
Digital transformers also help in monitoring vital statistics such as temperature, pressure and vacuum levels on a real-time basis. These can also be deployed with other online transformer monitoring products and diagnostic services. Such technologies are critical for improving grid reliability and helping utilities avoid transformer failures and resultant blackouts. They also reduce maintenance costs and defer capital expenditures by extending a transformer’s useful life.
Benefits of digital transformers
Smart transformers are controlled dynamically, allowing facilities to monitor and manage the transformers directly during power fluctuations. These transformers ensure that power supply remains voltage optimised even when new demands are being placed upon it. Digital transformers ensure that the required amount of power is supplied and they also respond instantly to fluctuations within the grid. Digital transformers act as a voltage regulator and ensure that the optimised voltage is undisturbed. They immediately reduce power consumption by providing a stable, optimal power supply to electrical equipment with an ideal voltage. Therefore, digital transformers provide protection to equipment from power fluctuations and ensure longer life of electrical equipment.
Digital transformers are capable of maintaining contact with smart grids and help in remote administration and real-time feedback on power supply parameters. This allows grid operators to determine the health of their assets and perform maintenance as and when required, thereby maximising the lifetime value of equipment, optimising technician time and delivering better customer experience. It also enhances reliability and enables higher utilisation of grid assets and power networks by Preventing transformer failures and the resultant blackouts. This helps utilities in avoiding expenditure on scheduled maintenance practices.
Digital transformers improve operational management and prevent faults. They provide dynamic control over real and reactive power, which is useful to optimise the efficiency of the distribution system. Since digital transformers also aid in reducing energy consumption, these are suitable for any energy retrofit or lighting retrofit. A digital transformer often performs a managerial role in the electricity distribution grid. These transformers work independently to constantly regulate voltage and maintain contact with the smart grid in order to allow remote administration if needed and to provide information and feedback about power supply and transformers themselves. Digital transformers are also useful in reducing energy consumption, and therefore, they are often deployed for energy retrofit or lighting retrofit.
To conclude, digital transformers are intelligent equipment capable of meeting the requirements of emerging power systems. The power distribution segment is characterised by ageing infrastructure, high network losses and poor financial performance. Strengthening the performance of the transmission and distribution network is critical for maintaining quality power supply. These transformers are capable of resolving several issues associated with the distribution network and smart grid operation, which are otherwise difficult to deal with in conventional off-load and on-load tap changer transformers. Apart from this, there is also a growing demand for digital transformers with the increasing penetration of renewable energy sources and electric vehicles into the grid, as it requires tackling voltage fluctuations effectively and maintaining a stable quality power supply.