Smart Transformers: Revolutionizing the Ever-evolving Landscape of Energy Systems

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In recent years, the adverse effects of human activities have become more than prominent. Unsurprisingly, the world has become more environmentally conscious and is now collectively working towards mitigating the disaster that is climate change.

The advent of smart devices has revolutionized how we consume resources and is pivotal in our attempt to decrease our carbon emissions. One of these solutions are smart transformers that can help us optimize our power consumption, which might be half the battle toward accomplishing sustainability.

So, let’s step into the realm of smart transformers where our appliances work intelligently to make our lives simpler and sustainable.

What Do Smart Transformers Really Do?

Smart transformers are electronic-based transformers that offer flexibility in power distribution networks, enabling smooth conversion of AC to DC and DC to AC. They cater to various applications, including traction locomotives, alternative power generation, power grids, and electric industries.

With digitalization and IoT implementation, transmission and distribution (T&D) utilities are increasingly relying on smart, digitized transformers for predictive maintenance. These transformers provide remote monitoring and real-time data analytics, enabling utilities to take corrective action before grid disruptions and blackouts occur.

Top 5 Pioneers Leveraging the Power of Smart Transformation

T&D utilities are working on deploying novel solutions, right from preventive measures to predictive maintenance, to address prevailing issues across the sector. Some of these innovations include:

1.  Outdoor Lighting with App-Controlled Landscape Transformers

Haven Lighting, a world-renowned manufacturer of smart outdoor LED lighting systems, has introduced its most recent developments in the landscape lighting sector. One of these is app-controlled outdoor lighting, which uses landscape transformers. These transformers can convert any outdoor space into multi-functional zones that cater to various moods and activities.

This app lets the user set timers for landscape lighting and choose from distinctive colors to match the day, event, or season. This outdoor lighting is incorporated with WiFi-controlled landscape transformers that allow lights to turn on and off automatically or change colors as per app commands. These devices not only allow you to set the lights, but they can also adapt to daylight savings time.

2.  Sensor Incorporated Smart Transformer for Digital Distribution

ABB has devised the world’s first digital distribution transformer, the ABB Ability TXpert distribution transformer. TXpert generates actionable intelligence by leveraging the ABB Ability platform and linked devices to enhance reliability, optimize maintenance and operating costs, and control assets more efficiently. This is the first device that is incorporated with sensing technology directly into the transformer during the production process, resulting in greater precision.

3.  Smart Transformers with AI in the T&D Industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed the way we approach decision-making, problem-solving, and process optimization. Power generation is no stranger to the power of AI. As energy demand rises, the incorporation of AI in smart transformers is becoming increasingly important in order to improve their performance and ensure a sustainable and efficient energy future.

AI systems can forecast when a transformer is likely to fail and offer preventative maintenance steps by analyzing previous data and finding patterns of wear and tear. AI-based smart transformers can assist utilities in avoiding costly outages and extending the lifespan of their transformers, thus saving money and providing a more stable energy supply for consumers.

Seetalabs, a globally distributed startup, has developed RONIN AI, a cloud platform that calculates and monitors the health of huge power transformers in real time to prevent power outages caused by machine failures and to forecast manufacturing power needs. The company combines RONIN AI and CIGRE A2.44 (630) to define the transformer health index as an indicator to describe the condition or status of the transformer for making decisions and prioritizing the required action.

4.  Digital Twin Sensformer by Siemens

Transformers are an essential and critical component of power grids, whether traditional or digital. Siemens’ innovative Sensformer will allow you to digitize this keystone of your grid. Your transformers are now interconnected!

Sensformer Advanced and Sensformer Edge digitally connected transformers have numerous benefits, such as decreased transformer downtimes, more flexible transformer operation, reduced costs, and increased environmental protection.

The digital twin is an essential part of the Sensformer Advanced and Sensformer Edge transformers. It enables operators to imitate the physical asset’s behavior in real time, resulting in an entirely new form of experience and value-added applications.

Furthermore, for highly developed applications, additional advanced sensors, such as bushing, partial discharge, or DGA sensors, can be employed on the asset based on the digital twin.

Both Sensformer models include the necessary sensors to enter the most critical operating parameters, such as oil level, temperature, and LV winding current. The main difference is in analysis and data storage. While Sensformer Advanced saves and processes data in the cloud, Sensformer Edge does so straight to the substation on a local computer.

5.  IoT-based Smart Transformers

Telawne launched its IoT-based smart transformers at ELECRAMA 2023, which are meant to give the greatest power quality. ‘This is state-of-the-art innovation that will also assist utilities in cutting their maintenance expenses’, said the company’s Managing director, Rakesh Telawne, in an interview. He also informs that Telawne will make considerable investments to improve its manufacturing capabilities.

Switching off

Smart transformers represent a significant advancement in power distribution and grid management. As smart transformers continue to evolve, they will play a vital role in the development of smart grid infrastructures. Ultimately, smart transformers are paving the way for a more efficient, flexible, and resilient power system. They enable a smoother integration of renewable energy, improve power quality, enhance grid stability, and contribute to a more sustainable and reliable energy future.

In the ever-evolving landscape of energy systems, smart transformers are set to revolutionize power distribution, unleashing benefits that extend far beyond what traditional transformers could achieve. Their innovative technologies and intelligent functionalities hold the potential to reshape our energy landscape and drive us toward a smarter, greener, and more efficient future.

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