Transformers are a vital part of the generation, transmission, and distribution whole cycle in power sector. They have also an important but little-known impact towards environment.
For such reason Life Cycle Management procedures are nowadays applied to them as well.
OEM’s evaluation of iCO2 emissions impact in production steps has become a routine for the purpose of certifying CO2 footprint on the frame of corporates ESG balance.
Transformers health conditions strongly affect their carbon print
Tools such as Ronin, allow to take the necessary actions to improve them and reduce energy consumption and environmental impact.
We outlined our pathway linking Health Index and environmental impact at last CIGRE Conference and Exhibition.
In past years, however, electrical transformers filled with insulating fluids were already carrying a major environmental issue: the long-term contamination by PCBs or Polychlorinated Biphenyls, one of the most persistent and pernicious pollutants.
Challenges in PCBs sound management
To provide an environmental sound management in favor of emerging countries for such issue, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), supported by the World Bank, finances disposal projects that also consider the preliminary inventory steps to identity contaminated transformers among fleets, the decision-making criteria to choose best available technique and action priorities.
In many projects debriefing however, the main clear obstacle was indeed to define a univocal criterion to prioritize assets treatment. Experts were debating what best model use, in the presence of very little available data, to decide whether a contaminated transformer should be scrapped in authorized centers, often in distant countries from where it is located, or better be decontaminated and treated on site.
Depending on the choice made, the costs and the technical and logistical implications would be very different and can cause significant gaps between the allocated budget and what are the actual undertaken costs.
The technical tools available to experts are currently very few and are based on the individual expert’s assessment of the data available on the level of contamination. Too often, however, data re not cross-referenced with the functional state of the transformer, which would allow to define maximum cost-effectiveness of any decontamination actions.
Ronin, AI and how to be more effective vs PCBs management
This case is the typical one where Artificial intelligence can support the expert by providing a key to interpreting intervention priorities.
Ronin tool for instance, has a range of application from 500 kva up to 800 MVA for any type of oil filled transformer which is susceptible to being contaminated by PCBs.
Having such feature is the best tool to decide the priority of intervention or whether best either disposal or decontamination, Is therefore possible the screening of thousands of assets by ranking their health index and therefore expected compliance with estimated lifespan in few second. The typical lack of data in distribution transformers large fleets is not an issue for Ronin thanks to his peculiar AI inference pattern. Once identified remaining lifespan it will then be possible to create a decision tree based upon it together with contamination level and economic impact of disposal/decontamination.