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Building transformers to last

7th May 2015


Inside the container sit various components such as the input isolators, cooling fans and extraction, voltage tap selection and medium/low voltage switchgear arrangement. Inside the container sit various components such as the input isolators, cooling fans and extraction, voltage tap selection and medium/low voltage switchgear arrangement.

Paul Brickman explains how the thriving genset market is boosting sales of packaged transformers

The recent Global Power Rental Market 2012–2016 report from Technavio forecasts the genset industry to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17% over that period. It also states that one of the key factors in this market growth is the increasing demand for electricity.

Temporary power is an area that still shows great potential and it is important that the industry keeps abreast of the benefits of products like multi-tap transformers in order to revolutionise power generation.

We are seeing the regional and international temporary power business as the main driver behind the sales of our step-up transformers, mostly where companies require a multi megawatt (MW) temporary power station at short notice. These can be provided by rental operators supplying reciprocating high-speed diesel and gas generators. Initially, industry leaders were tapping into areas where local energy providers were unable to supply power of the scale required or even at all, for example natural disasters or the London 2012 Olympics.

Where is the demand?

Take, for example, Africa where there is an insatiable, unstoppable demand for power. A continent which contains some of the fastest growing economies however, transmission and distribution generation capacity is generally under-developed and under-invested. Building multi-megawatt (MW) power stations can take years to design, build and commission – the type of power that temporary rental power stations can provide in less than eight weeks. There is a vast growth in population but this is not married with the pace of utility infrastructure development.

Emergency breakdowns are also a growing market area, where typical failure of old installed sub-stations may occur and especially in the extractive and refining oil and gas industries where plants need to be up and running quickly again to avoid costly downtime.

With all these applications and demands, packaged portable step-up transformers are a complementary product for customers renting high or low speed generators. At Crestchic our packaged offering includes both cast resin and oil filled transformers designed and built to specification by a number of major European transformer manufacturers.

Built of steel

Crestchic’s oil-filled transformers are built with significant strengthening in the oil tanks and are more robust for the punishing environments of the portable rental market which we sell into. This could be anywhere from the Middle East, Africa, or even offshore oil and gas.

Customers in this market-place have significant demands and the packaged transformers need to be highly robust due to the harsh rental environment. However, along with this they need to be easily transportable. It is extremely common for old shipping containers to be re-used for this purpose, as they are readily available at low cost. However, recycled shipping containers are not necessarily the most robust solution, because cutting holes in the existing containers weakens the steel and general structural integrity.

By manufacturing containers that are bespoke in design and engineered to be portable, Crestchic ensures that they are as strong and safe as possible. Using cross-sectioned steel and additional steel in the build process ensures a minimum lifespan of 10 years. Furthermore the structural integrity is recognised by the Lloyds Register Quality Assurance (LRQA).

Packaged transformer

The sole reason for packaging portable transformers is to ensure accessibility and flexibility. This means no time is wasted dealing with several suppliers to obtain the various components such as the transformer itself, switchgear, ancillary electrical items and enclosures. There are also no costs for on-site assembly and little to no civil engineering is required.

If an organisation is generating electricity between 400–480 Volts (V) at 50 to 60 Hertz (Hz), transformers step-up from this to a range of voltages typically anywhere between 3.3kV V and 36kV with multiple voltage taps available at a range of voltages in between, depending on the customer’s location in the world. Essentially this creates the capability of generating significant amounts electricity at a low voltage and which is then easily introduced onto medium/high voltage grid systems.

Inside the container sit various components such as the input isolators, cooling fans and extraction, voltage tap selection and medium/low voltage switchgear arrangement. Everything is kept in separate compartments to accommodate the main transformer and ABB Safe Plus medium voltage switchgear, another important feature of the packaged transformer. Crestchic operates from two to four MVA in a 10 foot container and up to eight MVA in a 20 foot container. The voltage range covers a multitude of international standard grids and industrial applications at relevant frequencies – they have to be global because customers use them all over the world which allows them to work in broad spectrum of countries. Some people refer to them as packaged substations.

It is important that the general power market is able to differentiate between packaged transformers and traditional transformers. The most obvious benefit being that it is a flexible distribution of power that can go anywhere and, all in all, we are seeing this solution become more common across the globe.

Paul Brickman is with Crestchic Limited







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