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Feature | January 2016

Rising hopes

High efficiency transformers create economic benefits for society, in addition to technical ones. The industry is hoping that rising exports and UDAY will give them reprieve.
The Indian Transformer Industry, which has been facing challenges in terms of demand growth, is hoping for the good times in the wake of growing exports over the last couple of years and the government´s thrust for revival of power distribution companies (discoms) by sprucing up their physical and financial operations in the next three years.

Even in the wake of slowdown in the global economy and when discoms are not robust enough to utilise the surplus generating capacity available, a sharp increase in exports have provided some cushion to the industry to keep their head above water. However, it is not enough to take their capacity utilisation to two-thirds. As financial woes of discoms subside, leading to growth in demand for power, coupled with increasing transmission and distribution (T&D) network expansion projects, is expected to drive the market for power and distribution transformers in the years to come.

In 2014-15, the size of the Transformer Industry was estimated at Rs.10,400 crore by the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers´ Association (IEEMA). Segment-wise, power transformers have declined by 15 per cent despite growth in exports by about 36 per cent during the year. Distribution transformers have posted a moderate growth of 5 per cent. However, in terms of volume, both have posted 8 per cent growth, implying that the average of transformer supplies were in lower kVA.

Tough times
´In the last two years, power transformer business growth has been negative and that has affected the Industry badly. All of us had added to the manufacturing capacity in line with the Government projections and expected business. However, we are able to get at just about 60 per cent capacity utilisation,´ says Jitendra Mamtora, Chairman of Transformers & Rectifiers (India) Ltd. However, there were some tenders announced recently by state utilities (or discoms).

´But in this business it takes
6 months minimum for tenders to get converted into business. If the government spending on infra¡structure picks up, our business will improve,´ Mamtora added. The Transformer Industry, which is one of the oldest manufacturing segments in the country, has seen Chinese and Japanese companies entering the country in a big way through setting up their units or by acquiring domestic manufacturers. Indian market is so attractive today that almost all the top global manufacturers have a foothold in the country, which is billed as the fastest growing major economy in the world with future growth visibility.

However, that does not bother Indian manufacturers much. ´Transformers´ is a matured technology and the Indian industry is well-grounded in line with the rest of the world. No significant change has taken place in terms of technology, except for the higher voltage class of transformers. Even in this area we in India have picked up and are able to cater to any requirement,´ says Mamtora.

Trade
Exports and imports of the Transformer Industry were estimated at Rs.3,500 crore and Rs.3,300 crore, including project imports, respectively in 2014-15. Despite global economic slowdown exports have posted a sharp growth of about 36 per cent during the year, mainly driven by 132 and 220 kV segments.

´Exports have picked up over the period and will continue to grow. This industry is highly labour-intensive and Indian companies score well due to low cost of manufacturing,´ says Mamtora.

Indian transformer industry is at par with other countries in terms of technology. However, the government support to exporters in India is not comparable our neighbour, China. ´With some support from the Government, we can really boost exports further. This advantage can be leveraged, if China-like incentives are given to us,´ Mamtora pointed out.

Most of the top global manufacturers are having a manufacturing base or sales offices in India, and two of them are from India - BHEL and CG.

A significant number also entered through project import route. ABB, GE, Siemens and Alstom have manufacturing base in India. Alstom has world-class facilities that reinforce its leadership in the transformer market, the company claims. ABB manufactures 765 kV ultrahigh voltage power transformers for sub-stations, which technology was not fully adopted in India.

´The biggest buyers have now put condition that these companies supplying transformers should have local manufacturing base to take up repairs as well. This step will help our industry once they start manufacturing in India, we will be operating on a level playing field and can compete effectively,´ Momtara says.

Global Standards
Another important indicator of global competitiveness of an industry is the level of adoption of global benchmarks/ standards. Though unorganised sector has little presence in power transformers, they cater to 30 per cent of demand in distribution transformers. Presence of unorganised sector in any industry dilutes the effectiveness of implementing global standards mandatorily. In India, the test method for measuring distribution transformers is based on the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 60076 series of test standards.

In January 2010, India adopted a mandatory labelling scheme for specific types of liquid-filled, naturally air-cooled and three-phase distribution transformers. These are the units referred to under Indian Standard IS 1180 (Part-I) and cover power ratings up to and including 200 kVA. The testing code and procedure for the distribution transformers would be as per the ´Indian Standard (IS) 1180 (Part-1): 1989´ with all amendments to date. The Energy Label/ Star System constitutes a useful tool for differentiating between models at the same rating.

´The scope of coverage in India is currently under review by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). Most likely the revision of the national distribution transformer standard (BIS standard) extends the scope of coverage beyond 200kVA and up to and including 2500 kVA and 33 kilovolts,´ said KN Hemanth Kumar, Chief Manager-EE Motors and Distribution Transformer, International Copper Association India. This extension of the scope is expected to bring India´s coverage more in line with other major economies such as Australia, China and the United States.

In August 2010, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) of India notified that all utilities in India must procure at least a 3-star rated distribution transformers, and hence it is prescribed in the transformer purchase orders issues by the utilities. Electrical Transformer Quality Control Order was issued by Department of Heavy Industries (DHI) on January 27, 2014 to mandate BIS regulations on transformers as per IS 1180 (Part I): 2014. The purpose is to regulate manufacturing, sale, storage and import of transformers as per IS 1180. A panel constituted by BIS has amended the IS: 1180 (Part 1 & 2) in July 2014 to expand the coverage of ratings from 100kVA to 2500 kVA, amongst other areas. The Order has come into effect on February 1, 2015.

The Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has also proposed remote monitoring of the distribution transformers so as to capture parameters like voltage, current, oil temperature, oil humidity, oil level with the help of sensors/IT equipment, so that power supply in rural areas can be beefed up. IEEMA was asked to prepare the technical specifications for the Distribution Transformer Monitoring Systems (DTMS) of ratings up to 200kVA and above 200kVA.

Efforts are also on to address the testing gaps at the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI), a Centre promoted testing agency. The Transformer Division of IEEMA has already identified the gaps in testing facilities at CPRI.

Technological developments
Setting a new industry paradigm, Tata Power has recently installed the India´s first natural ester filled transformers in 25-MVA category in Mumbai. Built in partnership with Cargill and Schneider Electric, natural ester filled transformer offers improved fire safety profile and smaller footprint compared to conventional mineral oil filled transformers.

Natural ester fluids have a high fire point (360o Celsius) and reduces risk of fires in the electrical installation, providing improved fire safety for the densely populated areas within Tata Power´s service area. The fluid is made from a carbon neutral renewable resource and is biodegradable, non-toxic and non-hazardous in soil and water.

´We plan to refine the design to further decrease the footprint and improve performance. This could change the landscape of the power industry in India and create a new paradigm that can be adopted successfully anywhere in the world,´ said Ashok Sethi, ED and COO of Tata Power.

ABB has recently launched AssetShield, a new first-of-its-kind solution to shield and protect large power transformers and other sub-station equipment from ballistic attack, including terror attacks. AssetShield currently meets UL-752 Ballistic Standards Level 10 Rating, ABB claims.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has recently issued a first draft of a standard for physical security measures (CIP-014-1). These standards mandate that all electric utilities identify and protect critical sub-stations within their system, directly addressing critical equipment security such as these large power transformers.

There is a perceptible growth
in demand for high and ultra high voltage power transformers with the demand for electricity growing in the country´s most populous areas. Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd., has placed an order with global power gear major, ABB for $23 million (about `150 crore) worth of 765 kV ultrahigh voltage power transformers for sub-stations in the states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. ´These transformers will help enhance grid reliability and efficiency, supporting India´s drive to upgrade its power transmission infrastructure,´ said Markus Heimbach, head of ABB´s Transformers business, a part of the company´s Power Products division.

French engineering firm Alstom has successfully manufactured and delivered India´s first 800 kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power transformer for the Champa-Kurukshetra ultra-high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) phase one link, which is a 1,365-km ´energy superhighway´ of efficient power transmission.

´These massive transformers will substantially improve grid connectivity by seamlessly transferring power across five electrical regions of India,´ says Patrick Plas, Senior Vice-President of Alstom Grid Power Electronics and Automation. Alstom is currently executing two 800-kV UHVDC bi-pole projects in India.

Zettler Magnetics Inc., is offering sealed transformer solutions with Class 2 UL ratings û featuring smaller footprints and reduced heat emission for applications such as LED Lighting, Electric Metering, Motor Controls and Thermostats. Advantages of these BV series transformers are delivering significant reduction in physical footprint compared to traditional open frame formats; having superior thermal characteristics that make them run up to 5oC cooler in continuous duty, and up to 40oC cooler in surge testing than previous generations, due to ultra-high winding efficiency and vacuum-sealed epoxy processes; features an unrivalled 14 kV surge withstand capability based on a patent pending Zettler split-bobbin design and provides minimised EMI noise without the added cost of a shield.

Global scenario
Global energy production has increased over the past 14 years, from 15,409.0 TWH in 2000 to 23,536.5 TWH in 2014, 34.53 per cent growth. This has also led to the increasing need for expanding transmission and distribution (T&D) networks globally, new T&D infrastructure needs USD 1.9 trillion in cumulative investment by 2024 to meet the growing energy demands, Research and Markets, a market research firm, said in a report. This includes sub-stations, power lines, and associated equipment and new technology. The governments worldwide are investing in T&D network expansion projects, increasing the demand for power transformers.

Although new T&D network expansions are being carried out in South America, some parts of Europe, and Africa, major T&D network expansion projects are being undertaken in Asia-Pacific, especially in India and China. China had the most number of T&D network expansion projects. The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) has recently pushed for approval of a massive USD 250 billion upgrade plan that will link regional grids through 20 HVDC power corridors by 2020, said another report, which projected a CAGR of 7.6 per cent from 2015 to 2020, globally to reach USD 29.9 billion by 2020, from an estimated USD 20.71 billion in 2015, at a CAGR of 7.6 per cent.

Large power transformer is a rapidly growing segment of power transformers, owing to its use in high voltage transmission networks. The technological advances in HVDC, UHV, and EHV (Extra high voltage) transmissions have made it a crucial element in power systems. High voltage transmission lines are being set up to minimise transmission losses and power corridors being made to connect supply and demand centres. These high voltage transmission networks are being used to link renewable sources such as desert solar, offshore wind, geothermal, and hydropower with grid systems and demand centres across the world.

Looking ahead
Taking the cue from rising exports the government should promote trade relations with more countries through the power sector, not just in the transformer segment. Pursuing the recently announced Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) in letter and spirit will also boost demand across the power sector, domestically.

The industry is confident that the scheme will set the house of discoms in order and lead to singing of more power purchase agreements (PPAs), thus resulting in more demand for transformers.

The government and the trade bodies should join hands to promote research and development in emerging technologies to ride into different markets, taking advantage of low manufacturing costs in the country.

Mamtora identified the following emerging technological trends that can be pursued by the manufacturers in the coming years:
a)Development of 1200 kV, UHVAC class transformers
and Shunt Reactors for futuristic 1200-kV AC transmission corridors.
b)Development of Low-Loss Energy-efficient transformers to reduce generation and in turn, carbon emission.
c)Environment-friendly and fire-safe transformers using K-class liquids, i.e. ester liquids (natural as well as synthetic).
d)Development of phase-shifting transformers and controlled shunt reactor to enhance power transfer capability of the grid.
e)Development of high voltage dry bushings (RIP and RIS) in lieu of OIP bushings to avoid catastrophic fire mishaps, in case of bushing failures.
f)Development of technology for Gas Insulated Transformers (GIT), since GIS is the trend.
g)Development and interpretation of online diagnostic methods for condition monitoring, health-check, failure analysis and remnant life estimation and life extension of transformers.

Types of Transformers
Transformers can be categorized in different ways, depending upon their
purpose, use, construction etc. The types of transformer are as follows:
Step Up Transformer & Step Down Transformer: Generally used for
stepping up and down the voltage level of power in transmission and
distribution power network.
Three Phase Transformer & Single Phase Transformer: Former is
generally used in three phase power system as it is cost effective than later but
when size matters, it is preferable to use bank of three single phase transformer
as it is easier to transport three single phase unit separately than one single
three phase unit.
Electrical transformer: Electrical Power Transformer, Distribution
Transformer & Instrument Transformer - Transformer is generally used in
transmission network which is normally known as power transformer,
distribution transformer is used in distribution network and this is lower rating
transformer and current transformer & potential transformer, we use for relay
and protection purpose in electrical power system and in different instruments
in industries are called instrument transformer.
Two Winding Transformer & Auto Transformer: Former is generally used
where ratio between high voltage and low voltage is greater than 2. It is cost
effective to use later where the ratio between high voltage and low voltage is
less than 2.
Outdoor Transformer & Indoor Transformer: Transformers that are
designed for installing at outdoor are outdoor transformers and transformers
designed for installing at indoor are indoor transformers.


-BS SRINIVASALU REDDY

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