Availability of Transformers Could Be the Biggest Hurdle on Road to Net Zero

The energy transition is bringing about major changes to the UK’s energy infrastructure, both for the National Grid itself and for individual sites and businesses. One vital component of that infrastructure is transformers, that play a fundamental role in the integration of renewable generation. 

However, the importance of transformers is beginning to translate to substantial delays for some projects, as demand for the technology continues to ramp up. Global demand for transformers is forecast to double between 2019, before the start of the global pandemic, and 2027. For organisations looking to implement new on-site generation or other technologies that require a transformer, this is increasingly resulting in substantial increases to lead times as well as substantially higher costs. 

Historically, transformers have been used to ‘step up’ or ‘step down’ the voltage of electricity. High voltages are typically used for transmission networks, as well as some energy-intensive sectors, while lower voltages are used for conventional power circuits to operate low-voltage devices. Renewable energy adds a further, vital role, transforming the DC voltages generated by solar and wind generation to the AC current used across the UK. 

Smart transformers, able to respond automatically to fluctuations within a power network and incorporating intelligent control systems, also play a key role in facilitating smart microgrids, as well as providing better performance and power resilience. 

Increased demand in the UK can mean long lead times for UK businesses looking to procure a transformer. On the global market, a growing crisis around the lack of transformer supply, particularly in the United States, makes importing a transformer a similarly lengthy, and potentially very expensive, task. 

Another important aspect of this complex issue is the average age of a transformer in the UK. A typical distribution transformer in the UK is now over 60 years old, far exceeding its design lifespan. Transformers that make up a key part of energy infrastructure across a wide range of business sites have similarly often been in service substantially longer than they were designed for. In the event that a transformer fails, it has the potential to cause days of disruption as it is repaired or replaced. With the previously mentioned long lead times for new transformers, if a full replacement is required it has the potential to cause extremely damaging, long-winded outages and disruption. 

How Powerstar can help 

Powerstar’s Bromsgrove manufacturing facility specialising is producing transformers, alongside our leading BESS technology. Transformers are built bespoke to the needs of an individual client and designed to operate alongside on-site generation or a site-wide microgrid. Our low-loss transformers also offer substantial energy savings compared to many other transformers, particularly aging models, turning a potential point of power failure to a cost saving opportunity. With typical manufacturing lead times of between 16 and 22 weeks, a growing number of organisations are turning to Powerstar to help solve their transformer availability issues.

Find out more about procuring a transformer from Powerstar here