Column: Market review

Column: Market review

Transformer market development

Demand and supply – Are they ever in balance

 

Historical development

Between 1960 and 1970 the world installed generating capacity grew from 475,000 MW to 1,230 GW; in ten years 750,000 MW was added to the global capacity. At this stage, there was very little to add to this by way of replacing retired plant; this is calculated to be in the order of 35,000 MW during that period. The total demand for generator step-up (GSU) transformers to meet that capacity was 789,700 MVA (or allowing for the name plate over design 850,000 MVA). The annualised demand therefore grew from 66,000 MVA in 1960 to 82,000 MVA in 1970.

From these base figures it is possible to compute the total transformer demand for all generating, transmission and distribution network equipment. By 1960, most of the world was completing the re-building exercise post 1945 – production facilities for transformers, switchgear, generators, lines, cables and every other type of equipment could not be established quickly enough. The total demand for all types of transformers in 1970 had increased to just under 500,000 MVA per annum, having increased from just over 400,000 MVA in 1960 – which was a 20% increase.

This was a golden age in electrical equipment manufacture. Every developed country had a number of manufacturers that could produce the largest transformers that were required at that time, plus a large number of distribution transformer manufacturers that had sprung up due to the relatively low cost of market entry. By the early 1970s, there were more than 40 manufacturers of transformers listed in Italy alone.

Each of the major international companies possessed their own specialist manufacturing units, and the principal ones are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Major international transformer manufacturers in the early 1970s.