Transformer innovation in a changing energy landscape – Part I
We are in a changing energy landscape, transitioning to the future of energy on waves of innovation that respond to the economic, demographic, and environmental challenges of today. Electricity is becoming an important contributor to the energy transition in a connected and data driven society with rising electrical mobility. The future of energy will be electrical, digital, intelligent and sustainable supported by innovation, making significant progress in the way that electricity is generated, distributed, managed and consumed.
Transformers are part of this energy transition contributing to current megatrends like renewable energy, digitalization, sustainability, energy efficiency, circular economy etc. They are preparing for the future with developments in materials, design, manufacturing processes, components and services. Digitalization is becoming a pivotal element, that will not only help operation and maintenance during the transformer lifecycle (i.e., with artificial intelligence powered by relevant data and machine learning algorithms), but will also reshape relationships between the user, manufacturer and service providers with new business models. At the same time, the industry is experiencing a paradigm shift – immersed in a transformation process, becoming faster and more efficient, optimizing operations – with companies restructuring themselves to enhance profitability or in some cases simply looking to survive.
Transformer innovations are instrumental in addressing all those challenges, not just with pure R&D or technology developments but encompassing processes and operations across the whole value chain from design till transformer operation and maintenance.
This article presents different cases of transformer innovation, to illustrate how the industry is contributing to the future of energy, through digitalization; pushing into new boundaries; helping the development and integration of renewables; supporting other growing segments and industries; pursuing new frontiers of reliability and resilience; enhancing sustainability and energy efficiency, and readying for the future with new developments and innovations to come.
Keywords: transformers, innovation, energy, renewables, data centers, digitalization, energy efficiency, ultra-high voltage, generator transformers, dry transformers, power transformers, HVDC, FACTS, STATCOM, machine learning, nanomaterials, additive manufacturing, 3D printing, asset management, traction transformers
1. Introduction: Transitioning to the future of energy
Energy is an important part of human development, driving economic and welfare progress. In this journey, the energy industry has been evolving gradually and, sometimes, leapfrogging in disruptive waves of innovation. We are now transitioning to the future of energy, riding a new wave, with megatrends addressing today’s economic, demographic and environmental challenges.