Alongside the transition to renewable and clean energy alternatives, energy efficiency is crucial in addressing climate change. The vast amount of energy lost in transporting energy in electric grids contributes significantly to society’s overall energy waste. It has a substantial detrimental impact which contributes to global CO2 emissions.
The plan to boost overall energy efficiencies and drive towards net-zero has led the European Union (EU) to put in place requirements to reduce the losses in small, medium, and large power transformers. The introduction of Tier 1 (2015) and Tier 2 (2021) of the EcoDesign Directive for transformer losses is central to efforts to reduce the environmental impact of energy-related products.
With Tier 2 transformer loss levels coming into force on July 1st 2021, the industry has been busy planning the procurement of Tier 2 compliant transformers. Businesses have a golden opportunity to think smarter and greener with this regulation. Still, there’s never a better time than the present to take steps to improve the efficiency and sustainability of power infrastructures. Here are three ways companies can improve their energy management strategies.
- A long-term investment
Transformer losses represent 2.5% of the total EU energy consumption, so choosing high efficiency transformers can have a considerable impact. Transformers typically have a lifespan of 30 years or more, so the product you buy today needs to meet your power needs for the long haul.
The new EcoDesign Regulation will generate several economic and environmental benefits, aligned with the EU’s ongoing “20-20-20” programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and renewable energy in total production by 20%.
Although the initial outlay of Tier 2 compliant transformers may be more significant than their predecessors, they will be significantly more cost-effective thanks to reduced energy losses and improved efficiency over their lifespan.
- A smarter way to manage energy
By assessing the energy needs of different solutions and technologies in line with the new regulations, specialists can help you determine which offerings will produce a connected and more efficient operation for smarter energy management.
For example, transformers are often included in packaged substations. These can now be more connected with advanced features, including substation thermal monitoring, power quality and communication with external SCADA and software systems. Substations are prime candidates for innovative smart capabilities that are becoming a crucial element of a more digital national grid. Substations play a central role in electrical power distribution that utilities need to keep grid power flowing, balanced and routed appropriately.
Connected infrastructure can reduce costs (enabling remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance) and make overall operations more efficient, intelligent and resilient.
- A green priority – higher efficiency transformers
The energy sector is shifting to a decarbonised, decentralised and digitised model. The utilities industry needs to adapt alongside this change, or it will struggle to keep up with end-user expectations for green and clean renewable power.
Global energy demands are expected to continue growing. Companies are now under more scrutiny from all stakeholders to report and reduce their carbon footprints. Minimising energy loss and integrating renewables are two significant ways this can be achieved. With connected infrastructure providing the data’ backbone’ to help businesses understand their energy usage and optimise it, becoming energy efficient will be easier.
Getting ready for July 1st
The utilities industry is under immense pressure to enhance efficiency, cut emissions, and save money wherever it can. The EcoDesign Directive has set mandatory requirements that improve efficiency for energy-using and energy-producing products sold within the EU.
As of July 2021, more efficient Tier 2 transformers must be put into service to fulfil the EcoDesign requirements. The good news for utilities stakeholders is that new and more efficient technology is already available to meet these demands. Choosing to invest in a new, higher efficiency transformer can save money in the long run by reducing lifecycle costs and address environmental considerations.
By Lee Fairburn, Category Marketing Manager at Schneider Electric.