Power grids and vegetable oil mix well
The first environmentally friendly transformer in the 420 kV capacity range from Siemens has been commissioned by the Baden-Wuerttemberg power grid operator TransnetBW.
The world's first power transformer insulated and cooled using vegetable oil links the 380 kV extra-high voltage level with the 110 kV grid of the subordinate distribution grid operator in the Bruchsal substation near Karlsruhe, Germany. The insulating vegetable oil for this new transformer is produced solely from renewable, plant resources and is completely bio-degradable.
This ensures that the power transported via the extra-high voltage lines to Bruchsal is fed into the 110 kV grids of the distribution system operator and that this power arrives safely and reliably at households and industry throughout the region.
The special feature of this transformer is the filling. This is the first time that vegetable oil is used with this voltage category instead of mineral oil for insulation and cooling. Vegetable oil is not only more environmentally friendly, but is also much less flammable than mineral oil.
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“The use of this groundwater-neutral and bio-degradable insulating oil, with its high level of environmental compatibility was the decisive factor for us choosing this transformer,” said Michael Schäfer, head of systems technology at TransnetBW.
This is just one of Siemens’ contributions to environmental sustainability. The new power transformer for the Bruchsal-Kändelweg substation is the world's first transformer at the 420 kV extra-high voltage level for which no water hazard classification must be issued. As a result, this transformer can be installed and operated in water conservation areas or in zones subject to stringent environmental protection restrictions.
“The properties of this vegetable oil are not only beneficial to the environment, but also offer the customer cost advantages over transformers cooled with conventional mineral oil", explained Beatrix Natter, CEO of the transformers business unit at Siemens Energy. “The bio-degradability of the insulating oil means that additional collecting vessels and separation systems are no longer required at the installation location, resulting in cost savings for these items.”
Other important aspects are the substantially higher flashpoint and combustion point of the vegetable oil as compared to that of the mineral oil used up to now. The lower flammability of this insulating oil also provides the transformer with a higher fire protection classification. This means that the fire protection system can be optimized accordingly and that the transformer can also be operated favorably in densely populated residential areas.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.