Innovative vacuum tap changer technology to future-proof UK distribution networks

Innovative vacuum tap changer technology

We are pleased to announce publication of our latest BRUSH Engineered Solutions White Paper on “How tapping into 33kV transformer assets decarbonises UK distribution networks.”

The current backbone of the UK’s electricity transmission and distribution systems was built at a time when generation was dominated by large, centralised structures. Similar to the Victorian railway system not being able to adequately support modern high-speed rail, the growth of renewables and the electrification of transport mean that large parts of existing infrastructure are no longer fit for purpose.

The 33kV power transformer is an integral part of the UK’s electrical distribution networks. With an extended lifespan, it lends itself perfectly to not only demonstrate the challenges of future-proofing networks under the premise of ‘lower cost zero-carbon’, but also showcases how simple infrastructure decisions can help facilitate the transition.

For example, a power transformer in an existing network might no longer meet technical requirements due to capacity constraints or limitations in view of operational flexibility. To address such changes in technical requirements two fundamental, short term strategies are available: (1) asset replacement or (2) asset retrofit.

Where the useful life of existing assets can be extended with modern equipment that can be easily retro-fitted, networks are future proofed whilst minimising costs and lowering the carbon footprint.

The Vacutap® VBO® On Load Tap Changer (OLTC) for 33kV power transformers (VBO) uses vacuum technology with an innovative drive system. Developed by MR in collaboration with BRUSH it is maintenance free for up to 300,000 operations, and allows 100% reverse power flow.

Chris Abbott, BRUSH Group CEO comments: “We are proud to have been instrumental in bringing this new technology to the UK market. With easy bolt-on installation of the VBO to existing 33kV power transformers, required capital investment is reduced when compared to asset replacement, in particular when taking the significant tap changer maintenance savings of up to £250,000 per unit into account. What’s more the remaining lifespan of the transformer will be utilised, if not extended, and associated carbon footprints reduced accordingly.”

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