“Biological” age: longer service life of large-scale transformers

  • Optimised maintenance and replacement based on data analytics
  • Positive effect on the operating costs of distribution systems
  • Digital, database-driven offers extend innogy’s classic business areas

A new software solution from innogy enables the technical age of large-scale transformers to be predicted with much greater accuracy – like diagnosing the biological age of a human being. It makes it possible to more accurately gauge the timing of age-related replacement of such large-scale pieces of equipment costing several hundred thousand euros each, based on their actual condition. This offers power transmission operators the chance to make significant savings. The predictions generated by this tool enable economically sensible replacement based on detailed analysis of the entire transformer collective, rather than comments about the condition of a single transformer.

"The grids have to be upgraded to meet the ever-increasing demands associated with transformation of the energy industry", says Dr Joachim Schneider, Senior Vice President Technology & Operations, Grid & Infrastructure Segment at innogy SE. "As one of a host of different innogy solutions, this data analytics tool will contribute to more cost-effective grid operation and ultimately work to the benefit of our electricity customers too.

The tool predicts the "biological" age based on historic analytical data from around 1,800 large-scale transformers about things such as the condition of transformer oil. "By comparing around 10,000 historic oil readings and other historic data, a trend emerges for each individual transformer", explains Dr Stefan Küppers, Technical Director of Westnetz GmbH, innogy’s largest distribution system operator. "On the basis of those trends, maintenance work can be planned more strategically and targeted action taken in response to significant findings. This will allow us to extend the scope and timing of maintenance work and replacement equipment, and more accurately predict the end of each transformer’s service life."

As the operator of Germany’s most high-performing distribution system, Westnetz alone maintains around 1,800 transformers within the German medium- and high-voltage network (10 kV/110 kV). The company invests tens of millions on maintenance and replacement of aging equipment every year.

As a digital, database-driven solution, this innogy tool is a further example of the company’s ongoing efforts of tapping into additional business areas. "In addition to its beneficial use within our own Group, the pool of potentially interested users includes all operators of large-scale transformers in Germany and beyond", says Schneider. "This tool means the operation and planning of electricity grids will be augmented by another intelligent module, which will ultimately help stem the rising costs associated with energy transition."